Social Media and Technology

July 2019

Social media has created a lot of anxiety among the youth and lowers the self-esteem of those that do not have access to it. When teenagers from the city go to visit their friends in the villages during the school holidays, they intimidate them with their cool phones, iPads, cameras, and other electronic devices.

(The Director visited her nieces and nephews today and discussed the effects of social media. The teenagers all own mobile phones and spend most of their time on them.)

As much as the children in the village are used to daily house and garden chores, the media craze is catching on, and the parents are facing a lot of pressure from their teens asking for gadgets.

Teens with access to electronics have mastered the art of keeping themselves occupied in their free time. Whenever they have leisure time they go online, text their friends, share photos, ‘troll,’ and generally waste a great amount of time on social media. By the end of the day, they haven’t gotten much done because they were so distracted. The dive into electronics becomes addictive; the teens feel the need to stay ‘relevant’ by being online, but ironically ‘become irrelevant’ because they have not exercised real-life social skills. They lose their language abilities as they tend to use a lot of abbreviation, slang, and acronyms. The teens get exposed to a lot of the good and the bad side of the Internet due to poor regulations like weak age restrictions. Anyone can virtually access anything online due to a lack of strong verification requirements. This ‘addiction’ to technology causes the children to lose track of time as they dwell on the technological benefits of social media. As a result, with their heads in their phone or computers, they are missing significant opportunities to pursue important aspects of life, such as developing their individual gifts and talents, as well as career choices and possibilities.

Cyber bulling has become very common and can negatively affect people from any age group. Many kids and teenagers who are cyber bullied believe they can handle it themselves and refuse to resort to the help of an adult (which, in most cases, is necessary). Once an adolescent is being cyber bullied, their first instinct is to fight back as a form of self-defense, but this can lead to more aggressive bullying. After the adolescent realizes that their ‘self-defense methods’ don’t work, they often attempt to block or report the bully, but many cyber bullies will find other ways to cause their victim to suffer, if they are so-determined. The right thing for a kid or teenager who is being cyber bullied to do is to consult a trusted adult who will know how to handle the situation without aggravating the bully. The most negative side-effect of being cyber bullied is that the victim will begin to feel insecure or maybe even suicidal- this could negatively impact them for an incredibly long time. If the bullying is significant enough, the victim may even doubt themselves, forever.

 

 

 

 

We talked to a group of teenagers over the weekend while visiting our village and discussed these many issues.  We also mentored our young cousins, nephews, and friends who are on their summer holiday and engaged them in the same topics. Both groups were very open about the dangers of social media and the need to practice self-control where the Internet is concerned. It was interesting to hear how knowledgeable the teenagers are about social media and the kind of interest it evokes in all of them. The age bracket for kids carrying phones keeps dropping, kids as young as 7 years old are carrying mobile phones now.

The kids in the villages enjoy a lot of outdoor activities that don’t include technology. They are happier and more social; they live healthier lives and are more in touch with their hobbies. They are in touch with their culture and religion. The village kids focus more on their education; they make real friends and don’t get cyber bullied.

Technology in itself is not a menace; it can be used both negatively and positively. Knowing the limits is what is important.

 

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