Peer pressure drives juvenile cybercrimes

Washington, June 24 (IANS) Peer pressure and low self-control seem to be driving juvenile cybercrimes that include computer hacking and online bullying.

Thomas Holt, criminologist and assistant professor at the Michigan State University, said: 'It's important to know what your kids are doing when they're online and who they are associating with both online and offline.'

The study is one of the first to examine the cybercrime motivations of students in middle and high school. Holt and colleagues conducted a scientific survey of 435 students in a suburban Kentucky school district, the American Journal of Criminal Justice reports.

They found that the biggest factor in cybercrime was peer pressure -- basically kids whose friends engaged in cybercrime were more likely to engage in those behaviours, Holt said, according to a Michigan statement.

Cybercrime includes digital piracy (stealing music files), viewing online porn, online bullying and harassment and cyber-trespassing (which most often involves computer hacking).

Lack of self-control was also a major predictor. 'These are the more risk-taking, impulsive kids; they're more likely to act on opportunity,' Holt said. 'So understanding your children's potential for behaviour is important as well.'

Parental-control software is encouraged, Holt said, although it's important to note that many kids today can work around these programmes.

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