One of the most important challenges youth face today is making ethical decisions while using the Internet. Cyber Ethics is the study of ethical behaviors and issues involving users, computer programs, and the effects on society and individuals (Cyberethics 2014). Cyber Ethical issues include, but is not limited to:
Harassment and stalking
Threats of violence, terrorism, and extortion
Production, distribution, and ownership of illegal pornography
Identity theft and scams
Phishing, Malware, Viruses, and spam
What does it mean to be ethical? According to the definition in the Business Dictionary, Ethics is
“The basic concepts and fundamental principles of decent human conduct. It includes study of universal values such as the essential equality of all men and women, human or natural rights, obedience to the law of land, concern for health and safety and, increasingly, also for the natural environment.”
Cyber Ethics is a code of responsible behavior while using the Internet (Know the Rules of Cyber Ethics 2014). While there is much debate on what is considered “right” and “wrong,” the fundamental concept of treating other people with decency applies online as it applies in reality. The only barrier that divides people from each other is a computer screen and network of Wi-Fi and wires. Users can communicate and reach many other people in a short span of time. Bullies hide under anonymity because of the easy access to people.
One in three minors in the United States have received threats online (Cyber Bullying Statistics 2013). Victims are more likely to suffer low self-esteem and thoughts of suicide. The freedom to cross boundaries without immediate consequences leads to the assumption that people who use the Internet should expect to be “trolled.” This extends to other cyber crimes, such as making terroristic death and rape threats, viewing violent and illegal pornographic material, creating and distributing malware, hacking and stealing identity information, and creating fraud accounts. The consequences are not immediate and the victims are not visible. However the people who interact online are real human beings. They exist. Cyber crimes are not victimless crimes.