Good Example Of Ethical Issues In The Youth Using Social Media And Online Chat Rooms Case Study

Type of paper: Case Study

Topic: Ethics, Teenagers, Youth, Sociology, Media, Society, Audience, Internet

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/11/27

Ethical Issues in the Youth Using Social Media and Online Chat Rooms

In today’s world people especially the youth are able to communicate and express themselves better, a factor that has been enabled by the rise of social media and the internet. The internet is used even by the other generations for various purposes such as buying and selling products, social networking and downloading movies and music. The most popular use of the internet among the teens is the social networking. In a study carried out by Pew Research Centre (2015), about 95% of teens aged between 12 and 17 years use the internet. Further, eight out of ten of the population use social media such as Facebook or Twitter.
The youth are increasingly using online chat rooms and social networking websites. But the central issue is not their increased usage but the dangers that the sites expose them to. An example of that type of site is the The users, who are mostly naïve youth, do not understand the dangers they are exposed to in the social media. Cyber bullying, insults, stalking are just a few of the dangers that they get exposed to. The social sites claim that they have control over the content that can be viewed on the sites, but the truth is that practically they are unable to handle it. The sites expose the youth to a lot of dangers.

Ethical issues

Normal social media channels such as Facebook and MySpace expose young internet users to cyber stalking and cyber bullying and other dangers. Such sites provide live streaming, increasing the danger to their users. Being a social video platform, the site allows the users to interact with each other through live video broadcast in real time across the world (YouNow, 2015). The users of sites such as expose their private lives to the public unintentionally thus revealing personal details to the public. The ethical issue presented by such sites is the question of how much is too much. The content that they should reveal must have a limit. Further, they should consider disclosing information that is acceptable to the society and shun away what is said to be unethical.
The social sites such as do not have the age limit for the users. Even children aged ten years are interacting with others on the social site. This is an ethical issue because children are exposed to unhealthy content that do not help in shaping their morals. The parents are not even able to monitor their children’s activities on the site that is easily accessible to them. The website has thus failed to be ethical. The bigger the audience that these young people have on the site the more they feel good thus they are compelled to do dangerous things in order to maintain the audience. They expose their private lives to the public without the knowledge of how many people get access to it. This is an ethical issue because it may endanger their lives for having so much of their private information public.
Through the interaction, the children are demanded by the audience to do very dangerous things that they cannot resist. Although the site does not allow exposing sexual content, the young people do what the audience wants. Therefore, in the event they are told to show their underwear they just do it willingly. In a case investigated by Eli Lebowitz (2014), the children are lured by the viewers to do activities that are not ethical such as making out or other dangerous games. In one case, a girl choked as she tried to prove herself to the audience by taking a spoonful of cinnamon without taking water. Instead of the audience discouraging the act, some went ahead to convince her to try the game once more.
Although the site prohibits things like insults, profanity and threats, the vices still happen. The guidelines are only theoretical, but practically the children are exposed to all kinds of dangers that may affect them psychologically. Thus, there are many ethical issues that should be addressed for the well-being of the young people.


One of the principles that can apply to the above ethical dilemma is the utilitarianism that was developed by John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham. The normative ethics theory holds that the morality of an action is judged by the resulting consequences. The utilitarianism tries to balance the goodness or the pleasure and the harm or pain in certain activities. According to the theory, any action is judged as good or bad based on the pleasure or the pain it causes. It suggests that for an act to be ethical there must be a large number of people reaping maximum pleasure. In addition, the theory suggests that one’s pleasure and pain counts only if it affects the other people.
The common good approach is helpful when resolving the ethical dilemmas in the society such as the negative impact of social media on the youth. In the approach, all individuals are regarded as part of a larger community (Banks, 2012). In a community, there are certain conditions that promote its welfare. For the sake of success of a community, there is a need for the members to safeguard its sustainability so as to promote goodness for all. This includes helping the most vulnerable members of the society through measures such as improving a well-managed infrastructure and accessible technology. The approach tests the extent to which an action erodes or benefits an element of the common good.
The other perspective that can be used to analyze the ethical dilemma among the youth today is the virtues ethics. The approach argues that something or an action is said to be right or bad if it promotes the traits that are known to be culturally sound. The critics of this approach, however, claim that the overreliance on the culture makes the society fail to realize its full potential. The approach is not applicable in across all cultures since culture differs from one region to the other. The exposure that the youth get from is not right in accordance with the virtue perspective. This is because it makes the young users endanger their lives so as to gain popularity. Taking the example of a case cited by Eli Lebowitz (2014), sometimes the children are asked by the viewers to show their underwear or make out. This is not in line with any culture however diverse the cultures may be.

The Best Resolution

As the society grows with the equal pace of growth of the digital world, it is important that people come together and protect the youth. The current leaders will not last forever, and the young generation will hold the leadership positions in the near future. It is therefore crucial that they are guided to the right direction so as to shape their morals and ethics early enough.
One of the strategies that can be helpful with the youth is the use of a utilitarianism perspective. They should be encouraged to judge the morality or ethical standards of their activities. The activities that yield more pain than pleasure should be avoided. The pleasure that they gain from the social sites is less that the trauma that one may face (Minkler, 2012). In a situation where the youth are threatened or insulted, they may suffer psychologically, and the pain is not worth. Further, the demands they get from the viewers are not ethical because the result could be dangerous. The other approach that can be used to solve the ethical dilemma is the common good perspective. The society should not leave the young internet users to decide on what is right or wrong, but they should be guided. For there to be a good society for all it is important that the youth are enlightened on the negative side of social media. This will help them be selective on the sites they use and the issues they expose themselves to. The society will then achieve the common good where nobody is in danger.


There is a need for the society to take a keen interest on the ethical issues associated with social media. Some of the young users of social media do not realize the dangers they are exposed to. In order to have a society where everyone’s welfare is guarded, the youth need to be sensitized to the dangers of social media. The owners of sites such as should also play a part in ensuring that they monitor the material that is being exchanged for the users. Activities or ideas that are not culturally accepted should not be allowed on the sites such as child pornography. This will help control the degree of danger that the children get exposed to. The use of the internet and social media by the youth can be explained by various ethical theories such as the utilitarianism, virtue, and the common good. The theories define ethical standards from different schools of thought, but the unifying factor is that unethical standards should not be upheld. The social media brings on various ethical issues. However, by applying the common good and the utilitarianism perspectives, the ethical dilemma posed by the social media can be resolved.


Banks, S. (2012). Ethical issues in youth work. Routledge.
Eli Lebowitz. (2014, July 21). The Unregulated World of YouNow. Retrieved from
Minkler, M. (Ed.). (2012). Community organizing and community building for health and welfare. Rutgers University Press.
Pew Research Center. (2015). Teens Fact Sheet. Retrieved February 06, 2015, from
YouNow. (2015). Live on You Now. Retrieved February 06, 2015, from

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