Today the use of IT in everyday life has rocketed resulting in the rise of electronic communication as a main medium of communication. The use of the postal service, the envelopes and letters is almost in the extinction phase with only some formal communication being done through these means.
Moreover, even the face-to-face communication is in decreasing stage as a result of this rapid rise in the communication based on computer screens.
…..It is obvious from the history that human beings are always pursuing easier life. They always seek luxury, and this very human behaviour has guided them to achieve the different milestones in the scientific discoveries and the technical advancement. The emergence of the electronic communication strengthens this fact of human behaviour in the field of exchanging messages and information. It is not a surprise that this form of communication has got the overwhelming acceptance because of its ease and simplicity.
There are many immediate benefits of such communications like easy to use technology, multiple conversations at a time, privacy, easy reach despite of any geographical distance, reliability and consistency. However, careful considerations into the matter reveal all the negative effects of this so called easy form of communication. These effects are not so immediate and therefore are being taken lightly by the society. Some of the negative impacts of electronic communication have already taken place and are in the rise, whereas some are still residing as a passive volcano ready to erupt and melt the human race.
Several cases of the negative results of the electronic communications have been recorded and are in the rise in today’s society. Loss of social skills, loss of values, degradation of language and literature and the impact on the physical and mental health of the user are some of these cases. Whereas, acute psychological disorders and different ailments due to reduced physical activities are researched to be the future of these wired and wireless communication.
Although, this form of communication is not unique to people as per their age and sex, the main age group that is vulnerable to this technology is ages 10 to 18 years. These children are vulnerable because they don’t have a developed mind set to distinguish the right from the wrong. Also, it is not wise to stop the communication and information resources like Internet for the children, because these are the preciouses learning tools as well. The people of age 18 years and above can save themselves by using their discretion so as not to get preyed by the dangers of electronic communication, and should spend less time in front of the screens. The children are the future of every nation. So the impact on them by any issue should be carefully analysed.
As all communications are based on wires sans social and personal touch, this will result in the loss of social skills and loss of respect and relationship values in the children. Also, mostly the interactions will not be one to one, which will result in the decreased supervision and guidance from the teachers. In extreme cases of social change, a child spending much time in internet chat could even lose the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. “Some children who use chat rooms with multiple users, where users adopt multiple identities and engage in role playing games, can lose the ability to distinguish between real life and simulation” (Turkle, 1995).
Navigating towards the darker sides of the internet, the darkest links are the issues like cyberstalking, drug and weaponry recipes, obscene materials, pornography and the paedophile networking which is the networking of the child sex predators. One danger could be the children trying to capture the personal information of others in the cyberspace, or engaging themselves to other crimes like making banned drugs or weapons by the help of some underground websites. Another problem could be the children straying on the internet, surfing the sites with pornographic materials. “The internet pornography industry generates $12 billion dollars in annual revenue – larger than the combined annual revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS” (Family Safe Media, 2006). Even worse would be the case if the predators are preying on innocent children who are making friendship through chat in the World Wide Web. Parents, due to their limited knowledge may not know what is going in their children’s computer. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (2007), 1 in 7 children have received an unwanted sexual solicitation on the Internet by a stranger. “In Australia, a small survey of 238 students in grades 7-10 in the Australian Capital Territory found that, 27 per cent of the children believed they had been contacted by a sexual predator, while using a chat room” (NAPCAN, 2001). The same survey also revealed that 66 per cent of the children regularly used the Internet to access a chat room (NAPCAN, 2001).
This increasing involvement of the children in the internet has simplified the activities of the paedophile networking. While, the easy connection to any child, sitting in one safe corner, and smooth networking with other such illegal networks, has added strengths and security to their activities. “There is sufficient evidence to suggest that paedophiles are using this medium to convey sexual fantasies about children, recruit young children, reinforce and legitimize sexual preferences through association and access support groups which facilitate networking” (Feather, 1999). These paedophiles use child pornography as a means of desensitizing children so as to normalize the sexual activity between adults and children. To win the trust of the children they disguise themselves, mostly by misrepresenting themselves as children.
Along with technological benefits, the electronic communication has brought many vulnerable opportunities for the abuse and exploitation of the children. However, the steps for understanding all these issues and actions for preventions have not been undertaken to adequate levels. This might be due to the lack of knowledge of this technology among the parents and society. Parents see their children studying on the internet, but they fail to realize till what depths of dangers this technology has rooted. Therefore, there is an immediate need of aggressive community campaign for educating the impacts and preventions of the dangers of the electronic communication. Only after the parents are educated regarding these dangers, their proper supervision could fight against these technological abuse and exploitation of children.
March 7, 2008
( The author of this essay is an engineer.)
(Source : INLS – australia)