Youth Online Learning Organisation (YOLO), IGPP, SMM conducted an exclusive survey on cyber vulnerabilities and parental trust among youth in India. Considering the growing online presence on social media, YOLO surveyed various respondents from major cities across the country to understand the new-day concerns such as online abuse, safety, privacy and trust between young internet users and their parents.
The survey reflected how one-fourth of the respondents faced online abuse which also included murder and rape threats, further bringing to the light the prevalent concerns of using social media apps without having a clearer idea about the demarcation between the private and the public, therefore, they end up sharing information those are vulnerable to their privacy. In the age of online presence and the need for validation amongst youth, the brand found out that nearly 30% of the respondents accepted to have shared sensitive information on the internet, leading to internet addiction while forming the foundation of internet-mishaps such as breach of privacy, forfeiting of individual information, spreading of fake news etc.
The cyber world has built multiple micro-universes which lure people to spend disproportionately long hours on it. This has not only been impacting their real lives but also their mental health. With privacy being compromised and various cyber concerns surfacing by the passing day, it is only getting more unsettling and worrisome for people to be exposed to the digital platforms and surf the net. The concerns only get intenser for the adolescents because the survey revealed that almost 50% of the underage young internet users do not have any parental oversight over their online behaviour. They are very private about their internet usage and often tend to shut the tabs or switch browsers in front of their parents.
Social media has created a virtual space for self-expression, where gratifications are met instantly. This happens to create a never-ending desire to stay visible. In the bid of getting the attraction, the users get entangled in a race of staying relevant, and not being missed out but her peers. In this bid of incessant outflow of overexpression, the users, especially the younger ones, not having a clear idea about the demarcation between the private and the public, end up sharing information that are vulnerable to their privacy. Problems like a breach of privacy, forfeiting of individual information, reckless spreading of unauthenticated information circulated as news through mass-messaging systems, or compromised monitoring children or teenagers from accessing contents that they are not otherwise entitled to, has cropped up as a new age problem that demands immediate redressal.
Following the acknowledgement of the issue is another obstacle which is that most of the respondents are unaware about how to respond to cyberbullying, harassment, breach and privacy and other issues. To support the statement, YOLO’s survey delved into the depth of this and found that more than half of the respondents were unaware of the fact they can resort to Grievance Redressal Mechanism. Only 15% turned up to the Police Stations for help, though 85% was aware of the fact that they can avail police help. Interestingly, WhatsApp had the highest number of users, and at the same time, 34% of the users were ignorant about the presence of the redressal mechanism. On the contrary, Facebook and Instagram users are more diligent and cautious about reading the safety and security related documents. These facts have pointed out the widespread ignorance about safety and security documents.
The report also showed that there are a considerable number of respondents who are engaged in vulnerable online activities like watching cyber porn, paying for such sites, divulging sensitive personal details, while at the same time claiming that their parents trust their cyber activities.
The study found that there is a need to conduct sustained awareness campaigns for the youth to promote awareness about safe and healthy internet usage. It further recommends schools and big tech companies should arrange capacity building on a regular basis to make the virtual space safer for the future generation.
Vismay Basu, Junior Fellow, IGPP, commented, “The study shows that youngsters are sharing information that may put them in vulnerable situations. Based on this and other findings of the study, we would recommend that this situation can only be dealt with by raising awareness about cyber security through workshops and seminars.”
Arnika Singh, Founder, Social Media Matters, said, “We are looking into the cyber lives of the youth in India as well as do the psycho analysis of the digital parents. The social fabric of the Internet is actually formed through user experience, safety protocols set by platforms and the actual implementation and action taken on the basis of the policies designed for development of the online communities.”
The Internet might be a progressive tool but it is also seen adversely impacting the health of the people due to overconsumption and the need to feel prominent in the virtual world. Unveiling the same, YOLO’s study showed that the heavy users are often addicted to the internet and the main reason for the addiction is the young respondents hiding their online footprints from parents by using separate ids, clearing computer and browser histories.
Amitabh Kumar, Co-founder, YOLO, commented on the exclusive report, “Our research will help the government and tech platforms create better policies and solutions to keep young people safe online. We hope to contribute further in making the dream of digital India come true.”
Prem Prakash, Co-Founder, YOLO, “This Report is a sophisticated and genuine attempt to de-mask the vulnerabilities of internet usage among the Youth of India, especially with respect to various social media platforms. In an age where social media users constitute the biggest community in the world, this Report appeals to the heart of the readers to take online safety seriously, such act of beseeching backed by intricate research and numerous poll results on a bouquet of issues pertaining to cyber security and online safety.”
Youth Online Learning Organisation has always focused on using social media to bring a social change and thus strongly suggests parents to become digitally active and talk to their kids about their digital space as well as try to understand their digital world as an informed parent. The company expanded the role by grievance redressal mechanisms more visible and accessible for all and tech-platforms to pay heed to their corporate social responsibility and encourage healthy and responsible use of their platform.