What the Ubiquitous Network Society Brings in Japan: Influences of the Mobile Internet Devices on Teenagers

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: F206
Oral Presentation
Kenichi ITO , Gunma University, Maebashi, Japan
Advanced technologies sometimes corrode social institutions. “Act on Development of an Environment that Provides Safe and Secure Internet Use for Young People” is a Japanese law which binds every parent to set up mobile web filtering on the mobile phone of her/his child to block “harmful” information in cyberspace. However, recent prevalence of smart phones and hotspots in Japan is spoiling this protection.

In this paper we want to describe current trends of the Internet use among Japanese schoolchildren based on several surveys we exercised in 2010 – 2013 in Gunma prefecture. The results show that many teenagers use their mobile Internet devices in a quite unguarded manner. For example, 20% of high school girls answered our questionnaire that they had met someone they had come to know through the Internet.

We are convinced that, basically, teenagers are exposed to three types of different risks. The first risk is caused by the fact that they are connected directly with the outer world, where evil adults (or non-adults) are waiting for their victims. This risk contains cyber-crimes such as enticement, deception or false billing. Another risk comes from the situation in which the teenagers are connected online with themselves. Cyber-bullying, or cyber-troubles are getting serious because they happen where neither teachers nor their parents can observe. The last risk comes from the recent convenient condition of the ubiquitous network. Schoolchildren are exposed to the risk of addiction to the Internet activities, such as online games, blogs, SNSs, live-chatting or online-shopping.

We want to illustrate what Japanese teachers or parents suffer from and what we should do in order to protect schoolchildren. We don’t think we can prevent teenagers from connecting with the web, therefore, at last we have to teach them how to adapt themselves to the coming digital age.