Virtualization Of Youth Deviation As Trend Of Information Society


This article presents the process of virtualization of youth deviation as a trend of information society. In accordance with performed researches, it is concluded that youth as a special social community in virtue of its performance specifications has a prepossession for irregularity in all its forms and manifestations of both positive and negative dispositions. This community is innovative, initiating new behavior patterns, its own slang, fashion, values and subcultural communications. Reference is made to a tendency of virtualization of youth deviation. Basic social needs are set up to actualize through the Internet and web virtual contacts, aggression has spurted, ties of interchangeable nature are settled, and the crimes are committed. The youth is presented as a special social community, which mentality and functional characteristics dispose to breaking different kinds of rules; moreover, the irregularities might be of both positive and negative nature. It is established that the social deviations among the youth are often determined by not meeting their basic needs – by the lack of communication, the lack or absence of ability of self-affirmation or self-fulfillment. The approaches to possible preventive measures of youth deviation are developed.

Keywords: Youthinformation societysocial problems of youthsocial deviationsvirtualization of youth deviation


The relevance of the given issue is connected to an increase of different types of the social deviations in the modern world, many of which were granted the status of the global problems. Snowballing growth of new life styles, modes and types of addictive behavior determines the importance and the necessity of the scientific reflection of this phenomenon. A social deviation is a systematic sociocultural phenomenon, demanding interdisciplinary and multi-paradigm socio-philosophic analysis. Modern science leads down the active search of social, psychological, biological determinants of the deviant behavior (Hyde et al., 2013).

Along with that, this sphere remains one of the most mythologized not only in trivial, but also in professional consciousness. There are not enough social and philosophic writings, which include the systematic approach in research of the phenomenon of deviant behavior in modern society. The philosophical research of such types of negative deviation that have no sociocultural backgrounds and are introduced in the wake of modernization developments is of special relevance for Russia.

Problem Statement

While developing methodical approaches to analysis of youth deviation, some of the problems were presented. The first problem is specifity and innovativeness of youth as a special sociocultural community accomplishing the function of establishing new rules and rejection of outdated rules. The second problem is relevancy of the axiological option in conditions of moral relativity and anomie, existing in the society. The third is virtualization and network disposition of every form of social cooperation as a trend of information society that are determining the growth of positive and negative youth deviation. One should identify one more problem, that is, the absence of comparable social control over the deviation in the modern Russian society because of inadequate correction of social standardization which is enough for extinction of institutionalization of the social deviations.

Research Questions

The authors raised the number of research questions. What is the phenomenology and etiology of the deviation? What peculiarities does the youth possess as a special sociocultural community? What is the structure of influence of information society on youth behavior?  Is it possible to monitor the quality of information in the context of incrementally growing informational flow? Which preventive measures could minimize the increase of negative youth deviation?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is the process analysis of virtualization of youth deviation in the context of the modern society.

The research tasks are the description of forms of negative youth deviation in the virtual reality and the search of probabilities of preventative measures, which minimize negative consequences.

Research Methods

The main research methods are: documentary analysis, victimization written questionnaire and focus-group.


The authors consider social deviations as a stable social phenomenon, connected to liveliness of social processes, arisen from irregularity of generally accepted rules of life activity of society (community) and institutional expectations, acquiring conflict nature. Social deviations are manifested through the correlation of social actions, which lead to the abruption of a social unity, social changes, change of lifestyles, transformation of way of life and emergence of social subject-bearers of irregular behavior forms (groups, communities, organizations, and institutions). Deviant behavior is served as an attribute of social deviations. The authors concluded that social deviations are proceed from rhizomorphousness and inhomogeneity of the social space, reproducing different (including conflict) discursive practices.

It was already stated that social norm and social deviation are considered as correlative dichotomous categories appearing to be sociocultural constructions, reflecting life references, behavioral patterns and values which are approved and condemned by a certain community (societies, groups) (Zhuravleva, 2013). These categories are connected dialectically, they verge into each other (deviation becomes norm and vice versa) and matter only if they are compared to each other, maintaining their own essential opposition and dialectical unity. Besides, it should be underlined that rules are dissimilar by their functional use; they are subdivided into typical (reflecting common rules of conduct in society), ideal (suitable for the sociocultural development level of society or community), backward (suitable for former stages of development of society or community), superior (targeted on development of society) rules.

Social deviations are connected with irregularity, and rules themselves are changing and becoming divergent in the morrow of social development and social control forms. That permanent process can be designated as pathology of normality or normalization of deviation.

Herewith it is necessary to note the relativity of the concept «rules», complexity of its understanding in different sociocultural communities and contingencies. Deviations may appear in various forms and grades of deviance from inconspicuous to notable. Depending on aftermath for social development, it is possible to point out socially and personally negative, destructive forms of deviant behavior and positive forms, connected with the conformation of new meaningful rules, manifestation of social work, leading to social development. Positive deviant behavior may be considered as an attempt of reframing social rules in accordance with changed social conditions.

Social deviations display complimentary identity, possess synergism (mutual reinforcement and support), relevant for value bases of relational genesis. Tendencies in alternation of social behavior in conditions of violation of social equilibrium (crisis) are specified in works of social scientists of both classical and modern stages. Genesis intricacy gives rise to anomie («value void», abruption of shared thinking and means of its achievement), which unavoidably forms the system deviant activities of social institutions with rendering sociocultural fluctuations.

The tendency for destandardization of social behavior rises sharply in the critical times, intensifying immoralism, axiological pluralism and contradiction of norms of society. Global character and transformation of social deviations determine the necessity of going beyond the narrow, inadequate approaches, disfiguring the essence of the phenomenon, the necessity of critical upheaval of oversimplified patterns and the resulting character of existing prohibitive sanctions of social regulation of conduct in Russia. The scales of expansion of human behavior deviations in critical times necessitate the fundamental study of the problem and development of the research methodology of this complicated social phenomenon.

Deviations appear and come out during the process of social communications, cooperation of social institutions, communities, groups and separate actors. Social framing of reality takes place every other minute during social dialog, posturizing itself as information messages on behalf of society to a person and vice versa. Social control over deviation is reduced to the fact that society assigns values and rules by virtue of its institutions; provides their transmission and socialization (adoption of rules by individuals); encourages observing the rules (conformism) or socially approved reformation; impeaches or punishes for irregularity. If institutions are in crisis (dysfunctional), they can render deconstructive values and anomic relations and then twist to shadow entities. Existence of multimodal society leads to framing of controversial rules and dilutes the concept of rules and standards of due. Finally, it disrupts functions of valuation and commitment of a personality, a community in a social environment, complicates social adjustment and control over social deviations.

Deviation in youth environment has its own differential peculiarities, resulting from specifications and the position of involved social community.

Youth is not only a social and demographic, but, first of all, sociocultural community connected with innovative social transformation and preservation of its continuity, remarkable for its specific characteristics related to basic needs and interest, peculiarities of sociocultural development of the world, multiple functions and a certain transitional status.

The main specific peculiarity of the youth is connected with marginal (borderline) nature of this community. This is an «evolving», aimed at the future, group, characterized by dynamism, maximization and desire for mainstreaming. They are not children anymore, but they are not adults. They have a great deal of responsibility, but do not have certain rights and experience. Marginality makes this group the most adaptive and promising, but, at the same time, the most contradictory community.

In the authors’ opinion, main attributes of the youth are: the search for identity, education and self-education; preparations for professional activity; assimilation of cultural norms and values, intensive self-development of personality, revelation of one’s potential, talent, fulfilment; framing of ideology and life stance; spiritual and moral development and self-control, acquisition of responsibility for one’s behavior; teenager’s becoming a citizen, political self-determination, self-comprehension as an active subject of civil society activity, acquisition of one’s own rights and responsibilities; family foundation and childbearing.

Despite the common attributes, youth as a special group have a fairly compound structure. In recent years, in this group, differentiation and stratification have increased, forming essential diversities in consciousness and behavior, life styles of its different subgroups. There is an increasing tendency of marginalization, autonomation and proneness to conflict of a number of subcultural youth communities.

Youth as a marginal group due to its functional characteristics has an aptitude for irregularity in all its types and manifestations. Youth appear as a group of risk, acting contrary to expectations of adult people and frequently take on it. That group appears as an innovational, creating new behavior pattern, its own slang, fashion, values and subcultural communications.

Youth is a social group which mostly opened for innovations; it appears as a leader of its development and its absorption. So, at the stage of transition from postindustrial to information society, it increasingly consolidates the function of «carriers» of information flows, new knowledge and skills, forming behavior patterns, clichés and stereotypes other than former ones, including deviant. The disadvantage of this community is absence of essential social experience. Denial of traditional cultural behavior patterns at a young age usually conjoins with high amenability and imitativeness, which can be explained by inconsistence of tasks of this life stage: attempts of the most rapid social adaptation and transfiguration of a number of social norms; acquirement of the complex of roles for efficient action in the adult world and updating these roles and behavior patterns. Factors that are determining social deviations include: neglecting interests and demands of youth in quality leisure on the part of society and government, commercialization and massification of a cultural sector, an increase of its visual appeal by means of content.

Infosphere as a brand new stage, based on a top-priority fracture and absorption of knowledge and information as an essential source of social development, is bound to import globalization sociocultural alteration in the character of interaction of social communities and institutions, generating a number of positive and negative effects. The peculiarity of post-industrial information society is in production and usage of information based on computer technology. The process of entry of computation and computer technology into different spheres of human activity, which originates in the forties of the twentieth century, has turned into a trend of modern social development. Noting special aspects of the information technology paradigm that composes the base of information society, Manuel Castells noted the following characteristics:

  • Interactivity – “information is its raw material: these are technologies to act on information, not just information aimed at acting on technology, as it was in the case of previous technological revolutions”;

  • omnitude of effects of new technologies;

  • network logic of any system or relation complex using these new information technologies;

  • flexibility of the information technological paradigm (Castells, 2009).

Globalization and a network character of communication processes amplify the possibilities of access to latest and current information. Development of the Internet and mobile service has led to alteration of patterns (standards) of youth social activity, which have shifted to virtual reality as a prevalent environment for actual community (Areepattamannil, Khine, 2017; Jiang et al., 2016; Holtz, Appel, 2011; Milošević-Đorđević, Žeželj, 2014; Cudo et al., 2016). All top-priority life spheres for youth: cognitive, communicative, labor, sociopolitical and leisure proceed they in virtual space, transforming it to a modern institution for personal socialization (Sukkyung, Lim, 2016).

Statistics, which have been received during conducting focus-groups, allowed us to conclude about an increase of social environment aggression, its deviance that unavoidably leads to systematic reproduction of victimized situations and transactions. For the last year, the majority of respondents of this research have been exposed to fraud in virtual reality, thefts, road transport accidents, sexual violence or attempts to commit it.

Analyzing research data, the authors have concluded about an increase of virtualization of youth social activity. In the Internet and network virtual contacts, basic youth social needs begin to be satisfied, aggression bursts out, communication of exchange type is established, and communications are supported. This is not only about negative, but also about positive deviant behavior. On the one hand, virtual reality acts as a baseline for development of social and cultural work that stimulates involvement in different chat rooms and forums. This includes participation in interactive voting, in website or blog creation; allowing location (in virtual space) of young adults’ works: pictures, photographs, written books and poetry, and other creativity products for exchange and discussion with online-friends. Positive forms of deviant behavior can include emergence of ethically directed social communities. As an example, the authors suggest considering a community called «ethical hackers», who work in the interests of commercial and governmental organisations, helping them to protect their information and IT-infrastructure.

At that, the special aspects of virtual space, such as transboundariness, quickness, anonymity, latency, limited control capacity, determine negative deviant behavior in virtual space: cybercrimes, hack-attacks (including information and telecommunication systems of public authorities and financial institutions). The Internet can appear as an independent tool of dissemination of negative or criminal information, which leads to appearance of different types of negative deviations (sociocultural, household etc.). Network «hangout», in the authors’ view, along with other social deviations, is not only a form of social alienation and avoiding the problems and complexities of the real life, but also a way of realization of youths’ communication needs, self-fulfillment, creative activities, passion and aggression.

Sociologic researches diagnose an increase of time for consumption of audial and visual information by youth, which they acquire from different communication media channels. Availability, intensity and frequency of information traffic for a young consumer enables formation of addictive behavior, similar to drug abuse. More and more time is devoted to viewing and listening; less and less time is devoted to organised social activity, reading, intelligence and developing activity. In this respect, mass media may be related to one of the most efficient and acknowledged social drugs.

An increasing traffic of messages of mass media and consumption of incorrect samples of virtual and mass culture can result in intellectual parasitism and infantilism of young adults.

Moreover, young adults, who appear the most active online users, may be influenced by the whole scope of different destructive web-communities of extremist and/or criminal orientation. At the same time, the Internet and social networks enable the development of remote and often anonymous communication, intensive virtual communication and intellectualization of individual leisure subject young adults to a high risk of manipulation, creation of consumers’ clichés and stereotypes. Information liberty has a lot of side-effects. Dissemination of false and dangerous information (e.g.: web-communities of suicides, followers of extreme activity, rumors, gossips, information about backstage life, etc.) acts as a factor that is capable of strengthening youth deviation.

Virtual reality threatens ignorant young adults, advertising and appealing to visit porn sites, to watch a video clip with a road accident or a violent scuffle. Through the web search engines, one can find information about drug points of sale and even buy it through the Internet or learn how to prepare drugs at home.

According to the information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, 11 thousand crimes were registered in Russia during 2014 in the sphere of telecommunication industry and computer information. Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section (TASS) reports on it with reference to a statement of the Chief of the TASS of the MIA of Russia, Alexey Moshkov. According to Moshkov, 41% of the cybercrimes account for thefts and swindles in 2014 (Kantyshev, 2015).

He outlines a wide use of mobile platforms as a means of confidential information acquisition and marks it as one of the important tendencies in the area of IT-criminal offence. Firstly, there is a use of malicious software aimed at stealing funds from bank accounts using the mobile bank system (Kantyshev, 2015).

Absence or incompetence of preventative measures, crisis phenomena in the institution of the family may provoke uncontrolled activation of destructive youth movements enlisting new users in virtual space and distributing destructive ideology in virtual space.

Due to their mental peculiarities and immaturity, youth are the most vulnerable group, and special preventive measures should cover it.

The main principles of preventive measures are permanence, immediacy and consecution. The majority of youth dwell in educational institutions; that is why, special preventive measures should become an «original tool» of management in the educational sphere, a specific form of analysis of its safety, comfort (non-aggressiveness), facilitating revelation of social risks and elaboration of proposals on minimizing their influence. Its essence consists in diagnosing reasons of deviation genesis and other social problems, researching the process of their evolvement and proper ways of their solutions, elaboration of preventive measures and minimization of negative implications. As far as one of discovered reasons for withdrawal to the virtual reality is social passivity and inability to resist aggressive social reality, the authors offer to direct the preventative measures at formation of the pattern of socially safe behavior (Zhuravleva, Zavyalova, 2014).

Special prevention, as the main goal, includes discovery, disposal and neutralization of reasons and conditions, triggering different negative phenomena in youth environment, and its result should be a self-developing and self-actualizing person, as an active, purposeful-rational and reflecting subject of activity and safe social behavior. Educational institutions, by virtue of comfortable preventive environment and special programs, can act as a subject of preventive influences, reducing the risk of youth victimization in virtual space.

One of the effective technologies of victimization prevention is the practice of teaching young adults the technologies of safe assertive behavior, which main characteristics are self-control and resistance to external pressure (manipulative influences), orientation to dialog and partnership relations with surrounding people, and acceptance of responsibility for one’s behavior and choice. An assertive personality removes extremities of aggressive and passive behavior, has skills and abilities to resist to negative influence on the part of both peers and criminal persons (including real and virtual recruiters and swindlers).


The problem of virtualization of negative youth deviation is the one of the pressing problems and challenges of today’s world. This trend actualizes the necessity of the systematic monitoring of social feeling and the index of youth happiness and projection on their basis of recommendations for creation of prevention programme aimed at dealing with youth problems as a basis of modernizing Russian society. Teaching youth safe conduct, in the authors’ opinion, can not only reduce the risk of victimization in virtual domain, but also form the social and psychological competence of a personality, having skills of efficient communication, and teach self-control skills, which can help to resolve the problem of imbalance in real and virtual environment.


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19 February 2018

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Zhuravleva, L., Kruzhkova, T., & Lazutina, Т. (2018). Virtualization Of Youth Deviation As Trend Of Information Society. In I. B. Ardashkin, N. V. Martyushev, S. V. Klyagin, E. V. Barkova, A. R. Massalimova, & V. N. Syrov (Eds.), Research Paradigms Transformation in Social Sciences, vol 35. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 821-828). Future Academy.