Mediating technology: How ICT influences the morality of the digital generation

Jan Bats*, Rianne Valkenburg, Peter Paul Verbeek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
401 Downloads (Pure)


An increasingly important theme for ICT designers is in what way ICT interferes with moral reasoning. ICT has given us new possibilities and it has simplified our lives. However, it is also influencing our experiences and morality, especially with the young generation. In this article, we present an exploratory empirical study of the relation between morality and ICT among adolescents and young adults. Using focus groups and diary research we studied the perceived impact of ICT on their daily lives and their level of cognitive moral reasoning within ICT related situations. We observed, conform our theoretical outline, that when ICT is considered impersonal and does not strongly obstruct the own perception of freedom most of our respondents reasoned in a consequentialist and pre-conventional way. Simultaneously, when ICT mediates in personal relations and interferes more with the own perceived freedom, higher moral arguments were demonstrated. This was particularly the case with the older age group. They were better able to identify the impact of ICT on their lives. With these findings, suggestions for a design process that takes this influence on morality into account are offered.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design
Subtitle of host publicationDesign for Harmonies, ICED 2013
Number of pages10
Volume7 DS75-07
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Event19th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2013 - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 19 Aug 201322 Aug 2013
Conference number: 19


Conference19th International Conference on Engineering Design, ICED 2013
Abbreviated titleICED
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


  • Cognitive moral reasoning
  • ICT
  • Theory driven design


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