Now you see me, now you don't – A study of the relationship between internet anonymity and Finnish young people.
The internet has allowed for a vast array of relational and expressional opportunities and risks, becoming an especially central component in the lives of young people in nations leading in consumer technology. Notably, most forms of internet use involve a level of user anonymity, whether carrying out online exploration, expression or interaction. This dissertation represents an early exploration of the relationship between young people and internet anonymity. The main goal of the research is to examine how young people understand internet anonymity and its effects in addition to what psychological and socio-demographic characteristics are linked to preferring anonymous expression online. Four studies were constructed for the purpose of this aim, each bringing a unique perspective to the discussion of internet anonymity through both past theoretical frameworks and previous studies on the online behavior of young people. Results of these studies highlighted various ways in which online anonymity provides avenues for meeting the needs of young people through forms of beneficial social invisibility while also being viewed as a cause for certain risks due to the lack of accountability for aggressors. Overall, the studies allowed for the effects of anonymity to be linked as both cause and facilitator to various opportunities and risks found in past research concerning online behavior. Furthermore, the identification of characteristics of those preferring anonymity online provided a bridge between anonymity studies and studies on internet use toward a new perspective of how the structural nature of the internet can affect users. Finally, the various findings along with the development of a model of modern internet anonymity provide points of reference for future research while also highlighting existing gaps in the study of young people online.
- Rinnakkaistallenteet