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In Grip of the Virtual Poison

A considerable amount of time nowadays is spent on the internet and the general respondent predict potential for improved life in the coming years. Individuals cutting across generations use the net for various reasons. Data and research states, children and teens use it a lot more than others. Of course the use of internet has been dramatic and the invasion of digitisation has seen positive trends; and while it seems almost impossible to hook ourselves off the internet, it is important to bear in mind that excessive internet use (EIU) causes children to develop internet addiction or compulsive internet use [CIU] which has several detrimental effects such as – wrongful use of social media, impulsive shopping, sedentary lifestyle due to excessive gaming and surfing, etc to more harmful ones involving cybercrime and poor mental health conditions.

With introduction of new technology, there are always concerns raised around its potential impact on, (particularly the younger generation) people’s well-being. Yet never before have we witnessed an infiltration of poisonous content being pumped directly into our brains. Specially the developing young brains whose worldview and ability to think critically and maintain healthy mental health and relations is tainted.

Let us look at some facts and figures. More than one hour of screen time a day is linked to depression, anxiety, and other extremely concerning issues. Irrespective an average teenager is seen clocking up to 9 hours of screen time. More than 7 hours of screen time experienced thinning of brain’s cortex – ‘area of the brain related to critical thinking and reasoning’. Are we then directly responsible for making ourselves and the future generation stupid by allowing this level of altering with the brains???

This however does not mean no end to a dark tunnel. The internet certainly is useful in our daily routine tasks. Think of all the wonderful pre-populated maps in our fancy cars. They take you right to your destination, well almost always. Its music to ears – robots replacing domestic staff. A blissful state where the early morning kaam (rush and noise) is replaced by calm. Snail mails and trunk dials replaced by emails and net calls. Remaining anonymous and bullying your monstrous boss . The super luxury of groceries, daily needs supply, the humble parlour and the much-needed money, all at your doorstep just a click away. On a serious note: knowledge and learning platforms, revolutionising education system, better connectivity and global work space has certainly made life more easy. The challenge is not in the use but the abuse of that which is available easily to us and this very abuse has led to the net having become a bane to some rather than a boon.

The youth is so exposed to enormous information download. They are an intelligent breed, extremely tech savvy and heavily dependent on the internet. If not well explained and made to understand properly, this leads to great vulnerability and them becoming victims of various malicious side effects such as trolling, net bullying, getting webbed, mental health concerns, gaming addictions, cyber fraud and other related crimes. The onus and responsibility hence is with each one of us to not subject ourselves or the future generation to digital trauma; but to consciously make efforts at the right usage and exploring the positive side.

To end it would be worth mentioning that at the other end of the spectrum there are economies where there has been no movement for almost 50 years. Countries such as Somalia, Guinea – Bissau, Niger, Central African Republic, etc… including North Korea, less than 5% of the population have taken to using internet. (North Korea’s oppressive regime restricts the use of internet to all granting access to a small elite group). Does this mean disparity and a greater divide? ‘The Internet’ has certainly changed ways of doing things and changed the world at large with a curiosity of what lies ahead to the commonest of mind, yet, in my opinion an era has just begun.

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