Transforming smartphones for communication, social networking, shopping and ticketing

Transforming India to ‘Digital India’ is
one of the development goal in operation now. When considering the status of
usage of technology, especially internet there are 460 million users have been
reported and out of which 389 million are mobile internet users. Presently,
India is the second largest smartphone market after China (IMRB, 2016).Technology
is the vital part of life. Smartphones have become the thing of requisite in
today’s scenario. Urban people use smartphones for communication, social
networking, shopping and ticketing whereas the usage is limited to
entertainment among rural people (UNICEF, 2016). The internet allows people to
encounter, socialize and share ideas on the social networking websites. Instead
of real-life human communication, people prefer communicating in the virtual
fantasy world. Though technology positively affects the people in many ways, on
the other hand, it affects the physical, emotional and social well-being of the
people negatively. Adolescents are spending their time and energy on
non-productive activities. Adolescents are excessively dependent and adapted to
an extent that it is impossible to think doing day-to-day tasks without the
support of technology.

For
some people, it is the way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoric
mood. Internet addiction is associated with the adverse psychosocial
development and mental disorders. The mobile phones emit radiofrequency
radiation that leads to neurological disease in addition to physical and
behavioural problems. Being in cyberspace adolescents face the problems like
depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, procrastination, restlessness, anger,
fear, Physical discomforts like dry eyes, backaches, headache, sleep
disturbances and problems in the real-life relationships. Adolescents are also
facing the problem of cyberbullying which includes emotional harassment, sexual
abuse, and threats of extreme violence. This smartphone dependence leads to
habit formation and online enticement to illegal behaviour like substance
abuse, sexting, and self-exposure. 

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With
the convenient process of getting to know somebody, relationships can grow and
tumble much faster. At contemporary society, the communication tool which
people use to connect with friends and relatives is social media. It increases
the communication but we disregard the fact that it has condensed the factual
realm communication to the least and this affects the real-life relationship
poorly. The cybernetic relationship is not always a virtuous relationship.
Adolescents give priority to the virtual relationship than the real one. The
quality of the relationship has an impact on the well-being of the individual.
The safe cyberspace usage is an essential thing needed to avoid or not stuck in
an unhealthy relationship. This paper discusses the pattern of internet usage
among adolescent girls. The researchers also give emphasis on role of social
work intervention in promoting safe cyberspace among adolescents.

Method

The
researchers conducted a group work in a large group format on safe cyberspace
for high school students. The study adopted descriptive design and the
participants were selected purposively from a private school in Kerala. The
study participants were the high school students studying in a CBSE affiliated
school in Kerala. The details of school is withheld due to ethical reasons and
is in record with the school authorities. Total 43 girls aged between 12-14
years participated in the process. The participants were reported for the
unhealthy relationship by parents or teachers. The group work process had two
sessions with certain activities. The researcher followed proper ethics during
the entire study.

Results

Adolescence is a time in which everyone
experience everything more intensely.No adolescent ever wants to be understood,
which is why they complain about being misunderstood all the time. The
researchers have come up with six themes which are concerned about the
adolescence and cyberspace. These were the major results formulated by the
researcher during the large group process with adolescent girls in the school.

The participants

All
of the participants were girls. The parents or teachers did not refer a single
case of a boy who had unhealthy relationships in cyberspace.  This does not mean that the boys do not have
an unhealthy relationship, but the parents and teachers were concerned about
girls only.

Accessibility to cyberspace

One-third
of the participants own smartphone or tablet and all of the participants had
accessibility to cyberspace. All the participants had an account on Facebook.
They use smartphone or tablet twice in a day for watching movies, playing games
and for social networking. They have an obsession and compulsion towards using
mobile phone or tablets.

 

 

Relationship with parents or
teachers

The
period of adolescence is considered as a crucial and significant period of an
individual’s life. Psychologically, adolescence is the age when the individual
becomes integrated into the society of the adults. But, the majority of the
participants of the intervention had a negative inclination towards parents as
well as teachers. Majority of the participants hesitate to share their inner
feelings with parents or teachers. They could not find time and platform for
discussing the status of their study or anything related to their past
experience. However there was participant who had a better relationship with
parents and they find time to talk and discuss past, present, and future of
their life.

Knowing the period

Majority
of the participants were aware of biological aspects of adolescence. They were
aware of the biological and hormonal changes that will occur during this
period. They recognize the changes of puberty and cope up with constraints of
the same. However, they did not have much knowledge about the psychological and
social aspects of their developmental stage such as the increased influence of
the peer group, emotional uncertainty, and emotional instability.

Healthy and unhealthy relationship

“Is
there anything to be immoral in Love or being in love with someone?” This
was the question raised by one of the participants during the group process.
The psychologists have pointed that peer relationships as one of the most
salient features of adolescence. All of the participants have romantic
relationship towards the opposite gender. Majority of the participants have
infatuation towards boys in senior classes in the same school. Some of the
students have a relationship with other people who were relatives or
neighbours. There were also participants having a romantic relationship with
strangers. They also reported that those kinds of contacts with opposite gender
affecting their concentration on studies and academic performance.

Safe Cyberspace

The
students are aware of the Do’s and Don’ts in cyberspace. They had updated
knowledge regarding current trends in information technology and about
smartphones. The students were aware that there is a chance to happen something
bad or unwanted in cyberspace if we are not cautious enough.

 

Discussion

Adolescents
are in transition from the dependency of childhood to the independent and
responsibility of early adulthood. As adolescents progress through early,
middle, and late adolescence development, the self-esteem, mood, body image,
cognitive development, family relationships, interactions at school and with
peers, and participation in health-risk behaviors are critical developmental considerations.
The current generation is very much influenced by the technology. It also
affects their psychosocial development. A few year ago the mobile phone was not
common in the Indian society. With the obsession growing for mobile devices and
spreading across generations. The current study also reveals that the usage of
smartphone and social networking website increased rapidly. These devices
continue to be an important part of the majority of the households in India.
The adolescence is using technology for multiple purposes. However, the
respondents spent more time in chatting with friends or for a romantic
relationship.

            Discrimination towards a girl child
or women has been an important topic among social workers and policymakers. In
India, girls are facing a lot of disparities with respect to education, jobs
and the way of living etc. During the study also parents and teachers have
referred only girl students for intervention. It does not mean that boys were
not involved in unwanted or unhealthy relationships. It shows the anxiety of
parents towards girls being trapped or humiliated by the opposite gender. The
parents and teachers were more concerned about the safety of girls rather than
boys. It also has another dimension that people think whatever happened to the
boys with regard to their relationship can be managed or solved. This emphasis
that the acceptance of traditional proverb regarding the relationship in Kerala
which is “Ilavannmullilveenalum mull vannilayilveenalumIlakkan ked”. Which
means “Even if the leaf fell on the thorns, or the thorns fell on the leaf,
ultimately the leaf is the one got damaged”. It is unfortunate giving more
emphasis on girls and not giving guidance to the adolescent boys.

The
field of adolescence peer relationships encompasses a wide variety of
affiliations. Brown (2009) had given three important components of the
relationship: romantic relationships, sexually based interests and activities,
and groups of young people engaged in formal activities organized and supervised
by adults. The parents and teachers of the participants had complaints about
the romantic relationship of adolescent girls which may lead to unhealthy
relationships and which may cause the humiliation of their child and their
family reputations. Parents and teachers always think about only the risk
factor of romantic relationships. Of course, romantic crushes can have a risky
side. The Parents don’t want a teenage crush to become a fixation, he/she
unable to stop daydreaming and fantasizing all the time about the person who
arises by virtual life. They don’t want the adolescents to act out under the
influence of a crush in self-endangering ways, soliciting or expressing
inappropriate interest. They don’t want the crush to be exploited by the object
of the crush, an older adolescent taking advantage of a romantically besotted
younger adolescent. However, the parents could not find the time to sit and
talk with young girls about the past, present, and future of their life. The
participants also found difficult in sharing their inner feelings and thoughts
with parents. Now a days the family gathering and discussions are very less in
families. This causes adolescent girls going for a person who is listening to
her and talk to her. This kind of crushes can also lead to unwanted relationships.
So the parents have an important role to play in children’s life. Majority of
the parents not giving essential attention towards adolescents. They are giving
the license of ‘grown up’ and not spending enough time with young minds.

Social Work Interventions

Digital
technologies offer substantial progressive and informative benefits for
children. However, the growing access and use of smartphones and social
networking websites by children also increase their exposure to potential risks
of online abuse and exploitation. Cyber offenses against children are spreading
and diversifying as new methods are used to harass, abuse and exploit children.
Because a dreamy fascination is so extremely felt, parents must not take it
carelessly or make fun of it. An emerging of passionate feelings, it provokes a
lot of worries because there are many challenging questions for the adolescents
to answer.The social workers have a vital role to play in educating about safe
cyberspace to the children, parents, and teachers. The social workers have to
focus on different stakeholders while organizing the social work interventions.
The current intervention which was executed by the researchers were only
focused on students. This was the biggest drawback of the intervention.The
social workers have to aid in finding the answers to these questions of
adolescence. “What am I supposed to do with these feelings?” Should they just
be kept secret, thus increasing the risk of preoccupied obsession? Etc.The
interventions should help the parents to control the cyber usage and manage
unwanted relationships and to maintain the healthy relationship with their
children.  The social workers have to
work as a liaising agent between parents and children.

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