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Teenagers highly active on Social Media more prone to Suicide risk!

Community with its intense pressure to succeed, coupled with narrowly defined ideals about what youths should be, can perpetuate teenage suicide clusters

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Image used for representational purpose. Image source: wikimedia Commons

New York, Sept 10, 2016: Being socially connected has become a must for the teens today! The homogeneous culture and intense degree of social connectedness of a community can contribute to teenage suicide as well as thwart prevention efforts, says a study contradicting popular notions about being socially connected.

“The findings highlights the downside to social connectedness, something that is usually touted as a key tool for suicide prevention,” said Anna S. Mueller, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago in Illinois, US.

Community with its intense pressure to succeed, coupled with narrowly defined ideas about what youths should be, can perpetuate teenage suicide clusters, in which a series of suicides happen around the same time and in close proximity.

Fears of not living up to such ideals combined with the ease with which private information became public, due to social connectedness, leave teenagers and their parents unwilling to seek help for mental health problems.

Despite having social connections within the community, such conditions rendered youths who were already struggling particularly vulnerable to suicide, the researchers explained.

“Our study also helps explain why some schools with intense academic pressure have problems with suicide while others do not. It’s not just the pressure, but a combination of certain community factors that can make asking for help even harder,” Mueller added.

The study demonstrated how community needs to be considered when assessing vulnerabilities, and why prevention organisations should no longer view social connectedness exclusively as a positive force in measuring suicide risk.

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For the study, the team focussed on a single community, in which 19 students or recent graduates of the local high school had committed suicide between 2000 and 2015. Their field research included interviews and focus groups involving a total of 110 people.

The initiative to create various programmes to help students divert perceived failure and development of academic pressure were keenly recommended, the researchers said, in the paper published in the journal American Sociological Review. (IANS)

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According to Defence Experts, Better Social Media Usage can Prevent Hacking

Experts also believe that China poses the most imminent threat to India in hacking sensitive data in possession of defence forces through the use of malware and spyware installed on cheap smartphones

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Social Media
Social Media has become so embedded into our lives that it is difficult to restrain anyone from its use. Pixabay

The Indian Army’s recent directive to its personnel in critical posts to deactivate their Social Media accounts and not share official information on WhatsApp might only partly address the challenges posed by tech-based espionage activities, experts said here on Friday.

On the contrary, better education and training in Social Media usage, greater stress on switching over to homemade software and hardware, and adoption of best practices in cyber-hygiene, in line with advanced militaries across the globe, can go a long way in thwarting attempts at hacking to steal sensitive information, experts told IANS.

In addition, defence forces also face challenges of security vulnerabilities from spyware like Pegasus, which can track calls and read messages, if physically installed on smartphones, apart from phishing and attempts of ‘honeytrapping’.

Earlier this month, two soldiers of the Indian Army were held in a case of ‘honeytrapping’ by the intelligence wing of Rajasthan Police allegedly for sharing sensitive information with Facebook user ‘Sheerat’.

“Social media has become so embedded into our lives that it is difficult to restrain anyone from its use. The answer does not lie in banning the use of Facebook and WhatsApp alone. The soldiers can easily shift to other social media platforms like Telegram. Moreover, there are thousands of other apps available for everyday use. These apps have the threat potential to be used for hacking into a smartphone. The answer lies in better training in cybe- hygiene and data privacy that would enable a user to take a call on what not to post, what to post and even avoid phishing,” former Northern Army Commander, Lt Gen D.S. Hooda (retd) told IANS.

Experts also believe that China poses the most imminent threat to India in hacking sensitive data in possession of defence forces through the use of malware and spyware installed on cheap smartphones. “There should be more emphasis on usage of indigenously developed software and hardware,” added Hooda.

China itself had taken a lead in avoiding social media misuse by its armed forces personnel when it directed for the installation of special software on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers to prevent hacking.

“All devices used by PLA soldiers should be installed with special software created by the army’s IT experts and domestic mobile operators, so their activities can be closely monitored by the army’s newly established internet administration centres,” the Hong Kong-based English daily South China Morning Post reported in April 2016, quoting the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily.

Social Media
The Indian Army’s recent directive to its personnel in critical posts to deactivate their Social Media accounts and not share official information on WhatsApp might only partly address the challenges posed by tech-based espionage activities. Pixabay

“The software aims to filter all ‘unhealthy and negative messages’ that could harm the army’s political spirit and morale, curb access to sensitive information that might lead to leaking of military intelligence,” the People’s Daily report said. It also tracks off-duty officers in case they visit ‘unwanted places’,” the South China Morning Post further reported.

However, the decision to ban the use of social media to share “official information” has been seen as a step in the right direction by defence experts.

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“It is possible for inimical elements to open fictitious accounts to communicate with those privy to sensitive official information. It is possible for data to be extracted from Chinese smartphones. Though communicating with the use of social media platforms cannot be stopped, sharing of official information through these channels should be put to an end,” said former Director-General of Information Systems, Army, Lt Gen Prakash Katoch (retd). (IANS)