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A Qualitative Analysis Of The Social Harms Of Virtual Social Networks

The Usage of Virtual social networks has triggered challenges for the users and has caused or intensified social harms during recent years. Identifying these damages would be the first step towards studying the origins, preventing further damages and adopting appropriate countermeasures. The present research is a qualitative study trying to identify the social harms of virtual networks by adopting the grounded theory as the main method and by using in-depth interviews on a purposefully chosen sample of the population. According to the findings, the negative effects of virtual networks on users could be divided into several main groups that include: exposure to cyber harassment, psychological and mental disorders, physical disorders, educational disorders and sexual misconduct. Users' reactions are divided into three categories including positive (reasonable) strategies, negative (irrational) strategies and inability to adopt any strategies. The results show that social isolation, intensive forms of violence (self mutilation or committing suicide), running away from home and divorce, are the main social harms related to the usage of virtual social networks.

social harm, virtual networks, grounded theory, users


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