Reader’s Views

By Waqaur Ali Ahmed. Dated: 10/25/2023 5:38:45 AM

How teens are at risk due to unregulated social media usage?

85 percent of social media and smart phone users in India comprise of the youth and teenagers. Unregulated use of the digital space is jeopardizing their career. India has 253 million adolescents whose age group is between 10 and 19 years. Majority of them spend most of their precious time on phones. Due to lack of adequate regulations regarding the cyber world, social media content creators often produce content that is unfit for the consumption of young teenagers with fresh and impregnable minds.
The content creators often create products that are driven by the greed for earning quick bucks and not in accordance to the welfare and betterment of different communities and age-groups. They are thus exposed to violent content, rumour-mongering, obscenity and fake information which they begin sharing without understanding it.

The minds of teenagers are often polluted and influenced by content that is just a click away but is unfit for their age. This also distracts them from their studies.
The social media space that young adolescents enter is an open space where they are free to meet all kinds of people, viewing and sharing content without any monitoring and mentorship which is needed at this age. Addiction to the social media space and obsession with competing with their peers in the hours they spend on the virtual space, the people they befriend, and endlessly playing videogames often causes depression, anxiety, loneliness, and sometimes it turns into trauma and suicide as well.
Besides, losing interest in studies, many teenagers have given up on outdoor activities, reading books and other physical hobbies because after school, they willingly choose screen activities over non-screen activities. This is causing a serious mental health problem and producing a generation of depressed or angry generation.

Therefore, it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure limited time of use of electronic devices and also help them in choose the right kind of content to view in the digital space so that they can prevent them from becoming vehicles of spreading hate content, rumours and fake news. They should also encourage their wards to do homework, eat meals, and sleep early. Whether online or offline, parents should explain the benefits of face-to-face interaction and tell them how to deal with issues of hesitation, stage phobia, social anxiety, depression, and loneliness through it.
Understanding the seriousness of the problem, in the United States, the Health Department issued an advisory, according to which, “Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content, to bullying and harassment. And for too many children, social media use is compromising their sleep and valuable in-person time with family and friends. We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we must urgently address.” We must have similar advisories in India, as well to make people aware about the ill-effects of prolonged use of social media.



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