Negative impact of internet on youth needs re-look

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022 07:30 | By

James Irungu 

Over the years, social media has shaped how we relate. It is no longer necessary to see someone physically to know their status.

Meetings have been moved online, interviews are virtual while dating and hookups are a swipe away.

According to Datareport, there are 4.88 billion internet users in the world today.

The total number of internet users  grew by 222 million in the past 12 months – more than 600,000 new users each day. 

In Kenya, there were 21.75 million internet users in January 2021. Internet penetration in Kenya stood at 40 per cent. These numbers are expected to rise this year.

The penetration of the internet has been facilitated by the availability of affordable internet and smartphones.

The younger generation of between 18 to 35 years have resorted to finding work online as content creators, social influencers and online writers.

But we cannot dispute the dangers that have come with the internet – emotional torture, cyberbullying, fantasy living as well as the huge amount of time consumed on the social networks. 

For instance, according to Bullying Statistics, over 25 per cent of adolescents and teens have repeatedly been bullied online. Most online bullies target women.

The Association of Media Women in Kenya and Article 19 of Eastern Africa say cases of online harassment happen mostly to women in the course of duty.

These cut across cyber stalking, sexual harassment, unauthorised use and manipulation of personal information, including images and videos.

Bullies take advantage of the anonymity of the internet. The government needs to come up with measures to strengthen  regulations to fight cyberbullying.

The other factor that needs be addressed when it comes to social interaction is the fantasy living mainly among the youth.

The internet has created a world where everyone wants to be a celebrity. Pressure from the internet has resulted in lifestyle faking, the outcome being a depressed generation. 

According to the WHO depression fact sheet, Over 700,000 people die due to suicide every year.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds, online-related troubles being part of the contributors of depression.

Parents have been on the other side of the tug-of-war with no clear strategy on how to win the war because they have minimal solutions to the dangers that the online space offer.

This is because of the little involvement or the lack of know-how when it comes to the online operations.

It is a collective responsibility of society to come up with measures that can curb the negative factors that accompany internet penetration.

The young generation needs to be taught the safe use of the internet and better content creation measures and guidelines.  If not solved, this is another looming pandemic. — The writer is a Public Relations expert 

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