In the last decade, social networking sites (SNSs) like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook have developed rapidly. This has brought about many remarkable changes in the way people interact and communicate. The use of social media since its creation has been on a consistent rise. According to reports 92% of young people report daily use of social media and 24% of them go online almost constantly. In adolescents’ everyday life social media has become an enormous part. Facebook is the biggest social networking site and its number of active users are significantly increasing every day. For adolescents Facebook, Instagram, and then Snapchat are the most popular social media apps. The use of social media websites is greatly influenced by the family income. Studies report that teenagers with good and affluent background use Snapchat more frequently than any other social app. On the other hand, teenagers from middle class use Facebook more often. All this social media while bringing people closer together, also runs the huge risk of being used in such a manner as to make life difficult for some of its users, socially and psychologically. Constant use and the harm that social media causes psychologically is dangerous not only for today’s generation but also for future generations. There is a myriad of negative psychological impacts that social media users may feel, harassment and bullying being the most prevalent ones.
The positive impact of social media cannot be denied but everything has its merits and demerits, so the negative consequences of social media on society cannot be ignored. Adolescents, social media, and use of computer or smart phones are closely linked. The children of the current era are ‘digital natives’ and their parents ‘digital immigrants’. People use social media to stay connected with friends and/or make new friends. At the same time, social media allows people to present themselves to the society in the way they want society to see them. The idea of being seen in a way that is totally different from their reality seems wonderful to them. But while some users use social media to enhance and enrich their lives, there are some mentally disturbed people who use it to overcome their insecurities, weaknesses, and negativity by harassing and bullying others on digital platforms. These acts could be a result of any number of factors and reasons but their consequences could be very grave for those at the receiving end.
Researches have shown that there is an association between psychiatric disorders and usage of social networking sites. Teens who use social apps more frequently tend to have low level of maturity than those who are more involved in their own personal and practical life. Such teens are more interested in others’ lives and lifestyle. They try to copy and adopt other people’s lifestyle, whom they follow or see on social media. Most people don’t realize that everything being shown on social media is not true or the fact that every person has different circumstances in their lives. They need to know that every person on social media posts only the bright side of their lives; people never know what is actually going on in the life of the person that they idealize.
Teenagers with low maturity levels display symptoms of depression, low self-esteem, and anxiety. Adults with low self-esteem think that others (influencers, bloggers) are far better than them and try to imitate their lifestyle, instead of working on knowing about the positive aspects of their own personality. Such people are surrounded by negativity and are unable to cope with the adverse impact of social media, which greatly affects their level of mental maturity.
Teenage is a crucial and critical time in life, it is the time when one should focus on their goals and set targets, discover their own personality. Unfortunately, at such a critical juncture, people are under the curse of social media and its charm.
Sadly, even parents are less concerned about their children’s mental health and the activities that they are involved in. Instead, they feel proud that their children are becoming famous on social media without knowing what kind of content their children are making and promoting through their social media platforms. There are no checks and balance on the part of parents on their children’s activities, what they are doing or watching.
Parents should focus on teaching their children about moral values and ethics, be it the actual life or their virtual life. Parents’ indifference towards their children’s use of social media may result in the degradation of their moral values giving rise to ills like cyber bullying. Parents have the paramount role to play in the shaping of children’s moral values regarding social media. Parental involvement is a necessity in helping teens avoid risks such as cyber bullying, cyber stalking, harassment, etc. It is ever so important because teens need to develop social media savviness to prepare them for adulthood where, undeniably, social media remains a major part of daily life. Parents can work with their teens to help them find the right balance between social media, their mental health, and safety in the virtual world, both foe themselves and others. This debate is not new. Various aspects have been studied in detail over the past years and it has been observed that many controversies are related to social media and mental health of users. People with bad mental health are unable to differentiate between what is good and what is bad in terms of the behavior. Cyberbullying and online harassment that are very common but some parents do not even know that either their children are being harassed or involved in harassing others on social media. Addiction of social media is playing a major role in making people distant from their morals and values. People who have low moral values and maturity levels, often vent their anger or frustration on social media apps by bullying and harassing others they don’t like. They vent their bitterness by using abusive language, posting something disgusting, making fun, purposefully embarrassing someone, writing something offensive, or tarnishing one’s reputation. Although it may be tempting for some parents to outright forbid the use of social media, this is unlikely to be a viable tactic in the long run because social media is here to stay. Instead, we must comprehend the connection between a young person’s moral principles and social media use.
People are also unaware of the fact that laws regarding cyberbullying exist in Pakistan i.e., Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) passed in 2016. It provides a comprehensive framework for all forms of cybercrime and is based on the Cyber Crime Bill of 2007. Anyone found guilty of this offence faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, a maximum fine of one million rupees, or both. For minors, the maximum sentence is five years in prison and a maximum fine of ten million rupees. The PECA amendment also mandates that courts complete trials within six months, provide monthly updates on ongoing cases, and directs provincial and federal officials to remove any barriers that can obstruct the relevant procedural progress.
To investigate cybercrimes, track down offenders, and prevent internet abuse, the Pakistani government has established the National Response Centre for Cybercrime (NR3C) under the administrative responsibility of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Digital forensics, information system, security audits, technical investigation, penetration testing, and training are all areas where FIA has shown competence. NR3C has been trying to increase the capacity of government entities such as the judiciary, and the police to deal with these crimes. Cybercrimes present a number of difficulties that must be successfully overcome, therefore, public awareness and education are essential for their prevention. The general public is experiencing several issues as a result of the lack of knowledge about cyberbullying laws. Due to their complexity, even law enforcement agencies are ignorant of these crimes.
Social media addiction is impacting the ethical and moral values of people. Based on previous studies and research on stalking, trolling, and cyberbullying, it is critical to promote awareness about ethics, morals, and values along with limiting the use of social media. Social media is not responsible for such negative behavior or people, it is those who use it. HH
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