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India can help make cyber world level playing field

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New Delhi: Being a regional power that has huge internet consumer base, India can play a key role in ushering a ‘democratic’ cyber space, a senior Swedish official has said.

According to Maja Fjaestad, state Secretary to Minister for Strategic Development and Nordic Cooperation of Sweden, issues like cyber bullying and harassment of women subscribers were universal and India should pro-actively participate in addressing these issues.

“The problems and issues faced by female internet users in Sweden are the same as faced by female users here in India. We have been raising these issues but if India too pushes them, it would mean a lot,” Fjaestad, who calls herself a cyber feminist, told IANS on the sidelines of a conference here.

Cyberspace is home to almost the same percentage of women (47 percent) as men (53 percent), but women are twice as likely to face sexual harassment online.

As the online and offline environments are fundamentally intertwined, gender-based power structures have real-world implications regardless of platform.

According to Fjaestad, in countries with a rapidly growing internet user base, governments, businesses and civil societies should devise strategies to effectively address cyber bullying and gender based violence.

On the issue of net neutrality, Fjaestad said her country was for net neutrality. “If information has to be prioritised at all, it should be on the basis of purpose, not for the sake of money,” she said.

Fjaestad said Sweden was also seeking greater cooperation with India on other fronts including trade as there was “so much common interest” involved.


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Social Media Can Affect Teenagers’ Real Life Relationships

The increased screen time could also convert to more problems offline, the findings showed

social media
Social Media can potentially affect teenager's real life relationships too. Pixabay
  • Social media can severely affect the relationship of teenagers
  • Many teenagers are victims of online bullying
  • More time online can cause problems offline too

Even as effects of social media use on mental well-being is hotly debated, a new study says that spending too much time online can create problems in real life relationship of teenagers and vice versa.

Social Media can potentially damage teenagers' real life relationships. Wikimedia Commons
Social Media can potentially damage teenagers’ real life relationships. Wikimedia Commons

Results of a survey conducted by Professor Candice Odgers of University of California, Irvine and her colleagues showed teenagers from low-income families reported more physical fights, face-to-face arguments and trouble at school that spilt over from social media.

On the other hand, the researchers found that adolescents from economically disadvantaged households are also more likely to be bullied and victimised in cyberspace.

“The majority of young people appear to be doing well in the digital age, and many are thriving with the new opportunities that electronic media provides. But those who are already struggling offline need our help online too,” Odgers said.

Also Read: Social Media Giant, Facebook Introduces Ad Performance Measurement Solutions

Many teenagers are victims of cyberbullying. Pixabay
Many teenagers are victims of cyberbullying. Pixabay

In a commentary published in the journal Nature, Odgers argued that while smartphones should not be seen as universally bad, vulnerable teenagers experience greater negative effects of life online.

“What we’re seeing now may be the emergence of a new kind of digital divide, in which differences in online experiences are amplifying risks among already vulnerable adolescents,” said Odgers, who is also a fellow in Canadian Institute for Advanced Research’s Child & Brain Development programme.

For the last 10 years, Odgers has been tracking adolescents’ mental health and their use of smartphones.

In her survey of North Carolina schoolchildren, 48 percent of 11-year-olds said they owned a mobile phone as did eighty-five percent of 14-year-olds.

Also Read: Social Media in India: Understanding The Dynamics of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’

The study showed that teenagers from families with a household income of less than $35,000 per year spent three more hours a day on screen media watching TV and online videos than teenagers in families with an annual income of more than $100,000.

More time online can cause problems in real life. Pixabay
More time online can cause problems in real life. Pixabay

The increased screen time could also convert to more problems offline, the findings showed.

“The evidence so far suggests that smartphones may serve as mirrors reflecting problems teens already have. Those from low-income families said that social media experiences more frequently spilt over into real life, causing more offline fights and problems at school,” Odgers said. IANS