Cybercrime: Internet erodes teenage impulse controls

January 26, 2020

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Cybercrime: Internet erodes teenage impulse controls

Many teenagers are struggling to control their impulses on the internet, in a scramble for quick thrills and a sense of power online,potentially increasing their risks of becoming cyber criminals.


A new study analyzed existing links between legal online activities and cybercrime—for example, how viewing online pornography progresses to opening illegal content, and motivations to evolve from online gaming to hacking.


Newly published in the European Society of Criminology journal the authors outline why illegal online activity involving adolescents from 12-19 years of age is encouraged because the internet blurs normal social boundaries amongst young users who are tempted into wrongdoings they wouldn’t otherwise contemplate.


What the researchers say: “Illegal online activity is especially attractive for adolescents already prone to curiosity and sneaky thrill seeking, but the internet encourages new levels experimentation which are easily accessible,” said the lead author.


“The internet allows young people to limit their social involvement exclusively to particular associations or networks, as part of a trend we’ve termed ‘digital drift’. From a regulatory perspective this poses significant challenges as it degrades young people’s impulse controls,” headed.


“It’s becoming increasingly important to understand the connection between young people’s emotional drivers and committing crimes, as well as human-computer interactions to establish why the internet easily tempts young users into digital piracy, pornography and hacking,” commented the researchers.


“We’re using the word ‘seduction’ to describe the processes and features intrinsic to the online environment. For some young people, the Internet is like a seductive swamp, very appealing to enter, but very sticky and difficult to get out of.”


The lead author said that there needs to be a deeper understanding of the influential technologies regularly used by young people,recognizing that not all motivations for transgression indicate a deep criminal pathology or criminal commitment.


“Policy should consist of interventions that consider the lack of worldly experience amongst many young offenders. Online technologies render the challenge of weighing up potential risks and harms from actions even harder. A propensity for thrill-seeking common especially among young males encouraged by the Internet can create a form of short-sightedness towards consequences.”


“Effective government responses must reflect on the range of motivations young people bring to, and find in, their online behaviors, not least of all in order to garner support amongst young people when it comes to effective regulatory changes.”


So, what? To this I can only say: Amen!

Dr Bob Murray

Bob Murray, MBA, PhD (Clinical Psychology), is an internationally recognised expert in strategy, leadership, influencing, human motivation and behavioural change.

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