Swedish university to study teen morals

A Swedish university research program will soon be working with social networking community websites in a research bid to learn more about how the Internet affects the way Swedish teens build their norms and values, reports The Local.se.

Lund University plans to work with The Pirate Bay, the Svenska Pokerförbundet (poker association) and MySpace to learn more about social patterns which legislation and state powers normally don't see and don't address, Måns Svensson from Lund University's department of sociology of law told the Sydsvenskan newspaper.

The research project will consist largely of in-depth interviews with ninth graders from Lund conducted over the course of four years, he explained.

Svensson and his colleagues will ask students about their attitudes and habits when it comes to activities such as file sharing, putting pictures on the internet, and playing Internet poker.

"We have a theory that there are processes for building norms on the Internet which look different than those which take place in traditional society, and that they are moving in a different direction than where the majority of society and legislation are headed," said Svensson.

Specifically, researchers suspect that the Internet affects how young people develop their views on ownership rights, privacy, and the handling of money.

"This can be a problem for the law when you have a young, growing generation which creates its morals and norms through contact with these types of activities on the Internet and a set of laws which doesn't really comprehend what's new, and which risks heading off course in its attempt to regulate them" said Svensson.

Current plans for the research project also include comparing norm building processes in other European countries, as well as a looking at differences in how countries in Europe and the United States have attempted to regulate various Internet-based sub-cultures.

In addition to the university and the Lund municipality schools' administration, the project also includes the participation of Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson AB.

Partial funding for the project comes from a SEK4.7 million ($588,000) grant from the Knowledge Foundation (KK-stiftelsen).

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