Consent in cyberspace: Internet-based research involving young people.
Spriggs, M. (2009). Consent in cyberspace: Internet-based research involving young people. Monash Bioethics Review, 28(4), pp. 32.1- 32.15.
Abstract: Social networking sites such as MySpace and virtual communities such as on-line support groups can be a rich source of data for researchers. These sites can be an effective way of reaching and researching young people in order to address their particular health needs. Internet-based research is also potentially risky and exploitative. There is some guidance for conducting research online, but there are no detailed or universally accepted ethics guidelines for research of webspaces such as MySpace or virtual communities in which young people participate. One question that arises is – If MySpace is a public webspace, can research be done without consent? In this paper I investigate ethical issues surrounding young people’s consent in cyber research. I identify issues that help determine whether consent is needed, offer suggestions for dealing with consent in cyberspace and add my voice to the call for a resource of case studies – indispensible in the development of guidelines and the education of researchers and research ethics committees.
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