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Accounting for Social Anxiety in the Online IT Security and Digital Forensics Educational Domain

Drange, Tom Georg Sigfridsson (2023) Accounting for Social Anxiety in the Online IT Security and Digital Forensics Educational Domain. Doctoral thesis, The University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


No one could have anticipated the speed at which technology and social media have developed over the past thirty years. This increased use of technology and social media affectst today's students in some ways.

We are now in a spiral that is hard to get out of, and the more we implement technology and ways for people to carry out daily tasks from behind a screen, the fewer people might go out and socialise with the world. Losing the requirement to interact with other human beings means losing the training areas for face-to-face interaction, which could mean losing the ability to be a social member of humanity. The lack of training areas for social activities is especially bad for young adults who already struggle with social anxiety. The primary treatment for this condition is cognitive therapy which moves towards handling the situations that provoke anxiety rather than avoiding them.

A drastic increase in the number of devices connected to the Internet affects the need for IT security and digital forensics experts. Moving education online means that many young adults will find themselves doing IT security and digital forensics-related topics in an online environment. Many of these students will have psychological challenges of different sorts. This research aims not to solve these issues, as they are far too complicated for one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, the study seeks to shed light on students' different social anxieties in an online environment and discuss our new online and technology-driven world's psychological effects on young adults. Educators that develop programs or content and learning material, and deliver the content and teaching, must understand some of the mechanisms surrounding these issues and be aware of the challenges that cause many students to struggle. Although this awareness is valuable and necessary in other areas, as well as IT security and digital forensics education in online domains, it is perhaps logical to focus on this first.

The increased need for professionals in this area and the common idea that one can do this work remotely seem tempting for people who struggle with face-to-face social interactions. The results from a questionnaire form the basis of interviews with students with recognised social anxiety. Interviews with online students in general also help this research hopefully enlighten educators to make a difference for many online students in IT security and digital forensics domain and many students in general. This researcher published a questionnaire on the school's learning platform based on the Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale. The responses show that only around twenty-five per cent of the student cohort has a score indicating that Social Anxiety Disorder is not probable. The low percentage means that a potentially significant portion of students has social anxiety-related challenges at some level. This research also shows that not only online students have this problem. The issues are also present among campus-based students, in fact, more present among campus students, which is surprising. The recent outbreak of Covid-19, pushing students into an online environment they might not have wanted in the first place, also has had a considerable impact. Republishing the questionnaire for comparison for IT and non-IT students during the Covid-19 epidemic and examining the results using SPSS shows only minor differences between the cohorts asked before the Covid-19 epidemic and those asked during the Covid-19 epidemic, with no apparent differences between IT students and non-IT students.

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Depositing User: Delphine Doucet


Item ID: 16522

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Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2023 17:10
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2023 17:10


Author: Tom Georg Sigfridsson Drange

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