Transforming India to ‘Digital India’ isone of the development goal in operation now. When considering the status ofusage of technology, especially internet there are 460 million users have beenreported and out of which 389 million are mobile internet users. Presently,India is the second largest smartphone market after China (IMRB, 2016).
Technologyis the vital part of life. Smartphones have become the thing of requisite intoday’s scenario. Urban people use smartphones for communication, socialnetworking, shopping and ticketing whereas the usage is limited toentertainment among rural people (UNICEF, 2016).
The internet allows people toencounter, socialize and share ideas on the social networking websites. Insteadof real-life human communication, people prefer communicating in the virtualfantasy world. Though technology positively affects the people in many ways, onthe other hand, it affects the physical, emotional and social well-being of thepeople negatively. Adolescents are spending their time and energy onnon-productive activities.
Adolescents are excessively dependent and adapted toan extent that it is impossible to think doing day-to-day tasks without thesupport of technology. Forsome people, it is the way to escape from problems or to relieve a dysphoricmood. Internet addiction is associated with the adverse psychosocialdevelopment and mental disorders.
The mobile phones emit radiofrequencyradiation that leads to neurological disease in addition to physical andbehavioural problems. Being in cyberspace adolescents face the problems likedepression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, procrastination, restlessness, anger,fear, Physical discomforts like dry eyes, backaches, headache, sleepdisturbances and problems in the real-life relationships. Adolescents are alsofacing the problem of cyberbullying which includes emotional harassment, sexualabuse, and threats of extreme violence. This smartphone dependence leads tohabit formation and online enticement to illegal behaviour like substanceabuse, sexting, and self-exposure.
Withthe convenient process of getting to know somebody, relationships can grow andtumble much faster. At contemporary society, the communication tool whichpeople use to connect with friends and relatives is social media. It increasesthe communication but we disregard the fact that it has condensed the factualrealm communication to the least and this affects the real-life relationshippoorly. The cybernetic relationship is not always a virtuous relationship.Adolescents give priority to the virtual relationship than the real one. Thequality 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 inan unhealthy relationship. This paper discusses the pattern of internet usageamong adolescent girls. The researchers also give emphasis on role of socialwork intervention in promoting safe cyberspace among adolescents.
MethodTheresearchers conducted a group work in a large group format on safe cyberspacefor high school students. The study adopted descriptive design and theparticipants were selected purposively from a private school in Kerala. Thestudy participants were the high school students studying in a CBSE affiliatedschool in Kerala. The details of school is withheld due to ethical reasons andis in record with the school authorities. Total 43 girls aged between 12-14years participated in the process. The participants were reported for theunhealthy relationship by parents or teachers. The group work process had twosessions with certain activities.
The researcher followed proper ethics duringthe entire study.ResultsAdolescence is a time in which everyoneexperience everything more intensely.No adolescent ever wants to be understood,which is why they complain about being misunderstood all the time. Theresearchers have come up with six themes which are concerned about theadolescence and cyberspace.
These were the major results formulated by theresearcher during the large group process with adolescent girls in the school. The participantsAllof the participants were girls. The parents or teachers did not refer a singlecase of a boy who had unhealthy relationships in cyberspace. This does not mean that the boys do not havean unhealthy relationship, but the parents and teachers were concerned aboutgirls only.Accessibility to cyberspaceOne-thirdof the participants own smartphone or tablet and all of the participants hadaccessibility to cyberspace. All the participants had an account on Facebook.They use smartphone or tablet twice in a day for watching movies, playing gamesand for social networking.
They have an obsession and compulsion towards usingmobile phone or tablets. Relationship with parents orteachersTheperiod of adolescence is considered as a crucial and significant period of anindividual’s life. Psychologically, adolescence is the age when the individualbecomes integrated into the society of the adults. But, the majority of theparticipants of the intervention had a negative inclination towards parents aswell as teachers. Majority of the participants hesitate to share their innerfeelings with parents or teachers. They could not find time and platform fordiscussing the status of their study or anything related to their pastexperience. However there was participant who had a better relationship withparents and they find time to talk and discuss past, present, and future oftheir life.
Knowing the periodMajorityof the participants were aware of biological aspects of adolescence. They wereaware of the biological and hormonal changes that will occur during thisperiod. They recognize the changes of puberty and cope up with constraints ofthe same. However, they did not have much knowledge about the psychological andsocial aspects of their developmental stage such as the increased influence ofthe peer group, emotional uncertainty, and emotional instability. Healthy and unhealthy relationship”Isthere anything to be immoral in Love or being in love with someone?” Thiswas the question raised by one of the participants during the group process.The psychologists have pointed that peer relationships as one of the mostsalient features of adolescence.
All of the participants have romanticrelationship towards the opposite gender. Majority of the participants haveinfatuation towards boys in senior classes in the same school. Some of thestudents have a relationship with other people who were relatives orneighbours. There were also participants having a romantic relationship withstrangers. They also reported that those kinds of contacts with opposite genderaffecting their concentration on studies and academic performance.
Safe CyberspaceThestudents are aware of the Do’s and Don’ts in cyberspace. They had updatedknowledge regarding current trends in information technology and aboutsmartphones. The students were aware that there is a chance to happen somethingbad or unwanted in cyberspace if we are not cautious enough.
DiscussionAdolescentsare in transition from the dependency of childhood to the independent andresponsibility 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 withpeers, and participation in health-risk behaviors are critical developmental considerations.The current generation is very much influenced by the technology. It alsoaffects their psychosocial development.
A few year ago the mobile phone was notcommon in the Indian society. With the obsession growing for mobile devices andspreading across generations. The current study also reveals that the usage ofsmartphone and social networking website increased rapidly.
These devicescontinue to be an important part of the majority of the households in India.The adolescence is using technology for multiple purposes. However, therespondents spent more time in chatting with friends or for a romanticrelationship.
Discrimination towards a girl childor women has been an important topic among social workers and policymakers. InIndia, girls are facing a lot of disparities with respect to education, jobsand the way of living etc. During the study also parents and teachers havereferred only girl students for intervention. It does not mean that boys werenot involved in unwanted or unhealthy relationships.
It shows the anxiety ofparents towards girls being trapped or humiliated by the opposite gender. Theparents and teachers were more concerned about the safety of girls rather thanboys. It also has another dimension that people think whatever happened to theboys with regard to their relationship can be managed or solved. This emphasisthat the acceptance of traditional proverb regarding the relationship in Keralawhich is “Ilavannmullilveenalum mull vannilayilveenalumIlakkan ked”. Whichmeans “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 moreemphasis on girls and not giving guidance to the adolescent boys. Thefield of adolescence peer relationships encompasses a wide variety ofaffiliations.
Brown (2009) had given three important components of therelationship: romantic relationships, sexually based interests and activities,and groups of young people engaged in formal activities organized and supervisedby adults. The parents and teachers of the participants had complaints aboutthe romantic relationship of adolescent girls which may lead to unhealthyrelationships and which may cause the humiliation of their child and theirfamily reputations. Parents and teachers always think about only the riskfactor of romantic relationships.
Of course, romantic crushes can have a riskyside. The Parents don’t want a teenage crush to become a fixation, he/sheunable to stop daydreaming and fantasizing all the time about the person whoarises by virtual life. They don’t want the adolescents to act out under theinfluence of a crush in self-endangering ways, soliciting or expressinginappropriate interest. They don’t want the crush to be exploited by the objectof the crush, an older adolescent taking advantage of a romantically besottedyounger adolescent. However, the parents could not find the time to sit andtalk with young girls about the past, present, and future of their life.
Theparticipants also found difficult in sharing their inner feelings and thoughtswith parents. Now a days the family gathering and discussions are very less infamilies. This causes adolescent girls going for a person who is listening toher 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 ofthe parents not giving essential attention towards adolescents. They are givingthe license of ‘grown up’ and not spending enough time with young minds.Social Work InterventionsDigitaltechnologies offer substantial progressive and informative benefits forchildren. However, the growing access and use of smartphones and socialnetworking websites by children also increase their exposure to potential risksof online abuse and exploitation.
Cyber offenses against children are spreadingand diversifying as new methods are used to harass, abuse and exploit children.Because a dreamy fascination is so extremely felt, parents must not take itcarelessly or make fun of it. An emerging of passionate feelings, it provokes alot of worries because there are many challenging questions for the adolescentsto answer.The social workers have a vital role to play in educating about safecyberspace to the children, parents, and teachers. The social workers have tofocus on different stakeholders while organizing the social work interventions.
The current intervention which was executed by the researchers were onlyfocused on students. This was the biggest drawback of the intervention.Thesocial workers have to aid in finding the answers to these questions ofadolescence. “What am I supposed to do with these feelings?” Should they justbe kept secret, thus increasing the risk of preoccupied obsession? Etc.Theinterventions should help the parents to control the cyber usage and manageunwanted relationships and to maintain the healthy relationship with theirchildren. The social workers have towork as a liaising agent between parents and children.