Social media plays a vital role in our lives but it has paved the way for nefarious activities that are beyond control. The advent of social media has its worries, one of which is extreme exposure. Over the years, there have been issues of rape, sexual abuse, suicide threats, cyber bullying, and child-abduction, making these issues more pertinent than ever. Yet, digital technology has come to a part of our lives.
Sometimes, I personally try to refrain from using social media but I see myself failing repeatedly. Unconsciously, the social media is now integrated into our DNA. It’s quite strange how at one time in our lives, we questioned if we could live with it. Now, we wonder if we would ever live without it. Even though social networking sites have some advantages, they have their own share of downsides too, which many of us are not willing to accept.
While I may not go deeply into some common dangers, the social media creates a world within a world, thereby cutting off valuable interactions and relationships. They were times we played as kids in the fields and listened to moonlight tales. These tales used to be passed to generations; sadly, these things are no more. The reality is this: the social media cuts our interaction with real people. Many of us are contented with the interaction we get online. To an extent, this has led to the increase of suicide deaths. People suffer depression on a daily and there’s no one in sight to reach out to because everyone they know has relocated to the social media planet. There have been cases where individuals dropped their suicidal notes on Facebook and Twitter.
Twitter approached the situation, requesting for users to alert the team should any user be suspected of self-harm. Regardless, there is a sense of feeling when you have physical encounters instead. It’s not superfluous; it is real. To an extent, spending so much time on social media requires one to be morally stable as it is currently filled with ‘so many facts’. An unstable person who reads a suicide threat or a note on self-harm has obviously found a partner and will do likewise.
The most recent worry is online sexual harassment. A recent survey from Childnet reveals that one-third of teenage girls in the United States have been sexually harassed online by teens their age. As reported by the BBC, ‘31% of girls aged 13-17 have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention, compared with 11% of boys. One in 10 of the 1,559 teens interviewed reported receiving threats of sexual violence, including rape’.
It is evident, however, that cases like case are growing to become the norm in various societies. As it stands, the US isn’t the only country with such a case. Even though Facebook is designed to accommodate only users above thirteen, there’s no artificial intelligence at the moment that can accurately detect the age of a user. There are many under-aged Facebook users and they are easy targets for abductors and sexual abusers.
The report also revealed that 26% of teenagers are victims of rumours about their sexual behaviours; 12% claimed they have been pressured to share their naked pictures with their e-Partners; half of the teenagers reported that they have been blackmailed with their nude pictures; and 23% report that they are aware of someone secretly sharing pictures of another person online.
Many of these culprits perpetrate these acts for pleasure and sometimes for revenge. Facebook recently launched the messenger app exclusively for kids below 13 with complete parental monitoring and guidance. However, some adults are also culprits of the menace. With the freedom to own a variety of accounts, some people create fake profiles to stalk an unsuspecting victim or share sexual images or posts.
Facebook is not the culprit in this game of sexual-misconduct. There have been reported cases of other Instant messaging apps like WhatsApp and social media sites such as Snapchat.
Users on Snapchat can report an incidence of sexual harassment by holding the name downwards and tapping to report. The social media site claims it responds within 24 hours of a report.
Regardless, the dangers equate the gains. I was cut off from the internet for a couple of hours and it seemed like I had relocated to the jungle. I felt cut off from the real world. Do you feel likewise when you leave? Yes? No? Either way, it is our reality and we are completely free to choose which boat to sail on.