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February 05, 2019 Tuesday 10:59:18 AM IST
Rein, reign social media

Medium is the message. Social media is the darling of masses, especially the young. Its course is one of much intrigue in our times.

Certain analysts have dubbed the year 2018 as an year of peak distraction, obviously due to the continuous engagement on the electronic platform. A new word, nomophobia, describing irrational fear of being without the mobile phone, has been added to the lexicon. China has imposed restrictions on children’s videogaming industry. Apple has started a wellness centre at its headquarters after diseases spawned by overuse of e-platforms became a matter of considerable concern.

 

Despite reports of physical and mental damage caused by its misuse and abuse, social media platforms remain one of the most powerful forces of transformation.  Data has become cheaper and its use has widened across many segments. Several learning apps have been developed to help students. The new opportunity is to make the best use of them. It could as well counter the distraction of students on the social media platforms to one of focussed attention. A host of marketing opportunities have also been opened up on the electronic platforms.

It is for the human being to take control and not to blame the advent and growth of technology. Perhaps we need to prepare ground for proper use and ensure a win-win situation for everyone in the ongoing march to a new cyber regime that is rapidly changing the way we live.

Rajagiri Media took up the topic, 'Social media platforms as a transformer' for discussion at the 44th Rajagiri Round Table Conference held on January 16. The conference discussed the growth of the social media and its psychological effects on the young; the new marketing opportunities on the social media platforms; and the use and abuse of social media by students.

The following subject experts/ resource persons initiated the discussion:

1. Dr.Sanju George, Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology,  Rajagiri Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Research, RCSS, Kalamassery, Kochi.

2. Mr.JaneeshUthuppan, Director – Digital Strategy, Webdura Technologies, Infopark, Kochi;

3.Mr.Binoy Joseph, Senior Civil Police Officer, Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, Kochi City Police;

4. Ms.Megha Mary Biju, Student, Muthoot Institute of Technology and Science, Kochi.

 

It was followed by a discussion by the participants of the Round Table event.   

Dr.Sanju George,Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, Rajagiri Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Research,  Kalamassery, Kochi.

Use of social media is something like alcoholism.  it is not a problem as long as things are in control and the person is using it with discretion. Unlike other addictions such as alcohol and drugs, total abstinence is not the right course to curb addiction to social media. We can’t say “never use it” in the case of social media.

Merits do outweigh the drawbacks here. Controlling the use often could be a problem. It is something like this: there is a bottle of alcohol and someone says, “you can admire it, watch it and even touch it, but don’t drink”.  People should be made aware of the potential risks associated with the overuse of social media. There is a need to spread awareness on the fact that overuse is potentially damaging in respect of psychological and emotional aspects. Measures have to be taken to curb addiction. Spreading such an awareness among children and students is equally important. The cases that come to psychiatrists are not those of direct consequences, but that of adverse consequences.  At the same time, it is not something that could be done away with.

There are advantages; there are some harmful effects. People should be mindful of the reality. It is not a psychiatric or medical disorder as yet. For being considered as an addiction, it has to be accepted as a valid disorder in the medical terminology. The social media is a new realm. There is not much evidence to arrive at conclusions. If at all there is evidence, there is also dispute about it. More than biological evidence, psychological and social effects have been witnessed. The problems come with managing the difficulty arising out of it, as in the case of children using it; academic performance getting effected; and, people not having much time for social interactions. Then there are physical fallouts such as joint pain and back pain. But one thing is certain-- merits far outweigh demerits.

JaneeshUthuppan, Founding Partner, Webdura Technologies, Kochi.

I am from a company which is promoting business through the internet. Internet marketing is in vogue and social media has been part of that activity. Initially, we thought internet would form a big part of our activity. But within 9 years of our existence, there has been a change and almost all our clients have bought a good amount of social media marketing services. Technology has changed and the way people use it in businesses too have changed.

Being in an agency which has to serve the clients, we also have to meet the expectations of the business. it would be a big advantage to businesses and organisations. People engaged in charity as well as commercially oriented businesses have benefited from social media marketing. The benefits are more than the damage it causes.

There are several achievements in reaching out to a new audience. Unlike the traditional methods, social media is not one sided.  You can’t react to something seen in print immediately, whereas something put on social media gets immediate reaction. The reactions would have to be managed by the handling entity. The agency behind the marketing campaign will have to be responsible for managing the feedback. That is back and forth communication. It happens with the companies which deal with a product which has to be delivered on a time frame. People will not say their opinion when the company wants; they will just say whenever they want. Many a time, conflicts happen. As an agency we have to manage both sides including the negative. If the agency can’t manage it then, it will go out of control.

Whatever information we disseminate, it is used as a data point. It is a positive thing from a business standpoint.  It is good from a consumer standpoint as well.

Digital media has a lot of channels.  We propose what are the best channels to be used for a particular company. Take the case of Google as a platform. It is a place where people ask questions.  Take the case of facebook. It is a place where people share their ideas and experiences in life. There are some people who make use of the medium which asks questions. For example, entertainment industry or film or food, which have high visual impact. It would be suitable to be promoted in a social media platform. As strategists, we suggest the approach that businesses need to take, apart from the investments they have to make.

Binoy joseph, Senior Civil Police Officer, Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, Kochi City police

In case of complaints on social media, the complainants lodge the complaint to the police for taking action, which is referred to the cyber cell.  Ten years back, it was Orkut, the first social media platform that the cell had started using. From that day onwards, defamation was a concern. Social media has been a tool to defame certain individuals, group or organisation.

One of the problems in dealing with the problem is that it takes time to resolve the issue. By the time steps are taken, the damage could have already been done. For instance, if there is a dispute between two lovers and one of them posts pictures on the social media, the damage is done. There is a jurisdictional problem as well. The procedure for tackling cases over social media posts may require legal assistance from other countries and legal assistance treaties have to be worked out. Sometimes, help of Interpol has to be sought.

There have been cases of certain top officials suffering loss of money from bank accounts after having divulged the password. Such cases happen because people happily post details about their whereabouts on the social media without realising that it would be easy for someone else to track down the person.  

Education is not a criterion in respect of victims of fraud in the cyber space. People such as bank managers and doctors have been victims. Often, criminals track you from your cyber profiling. They know when to hit. So, be careful when you post something.

Addiction is a reality on the social media. There are certain games which have spread like wildfire. There was a case of a student staying in a hostel, who gained weight abnormally and reached 140 kgs within a few months of having got a mobile, gifted to him by his mother. It was revealed that he was addicted to playing Pokemon.

There are certain closed groups and it is difficult to monitor them. A group which glorified death was popular among some teenagers. There are child pornography groups; again, closed groups. Unless something happens that invite the attention of authorities, such activities are not noticed by others. 

The role of the parent is important in countering the malady of social media addiction.  If the parents themselves are engaged totally in social media chats, what are the children supposed to do?

There have also been instances of friends turning enemies over posts on the social media. The Sabarimala issue is a case in point.

Megha Mary Biju, EEE student, Muthoot Institute of Technology and Science, Kochi

Internet activism made decisive changes in the politics of Arab world in 2011 after a campaign erupted on the net. Hundreds were killed and tortured. The internet page that launched the revolution was made by a young man who took a sabbatical soon after the event. A few years later, he revealed that the page was meant to unite people of a particular group with good intentions, but it took a violent turn. Perhaps, the incident sums up the power of social media.

The millennials are active on social media and go on changing from one status to another. Posting one’s photos on social media sites has become an obsession for many among them.  The enjoyment of living on the earth endowed with a wide variety of flora and fauna is confined to pictures on the virtual world. Quite often, it is a mad rush from one status to another, pushing oneself into a vicious circle.

Of course, Instagram, facebook and other social media platforms are not bad. A lot of information is exchanged there. But one needs to take a second look at such information whether it is unbiased. There are clever algorithms for manipulation behind the scenes. And, since we have to form our opinions fast, we tend to not look into facts. There was a statement floated recently on the social media, attributed to Abraham Lincoln, purported to have had made it at a particular point of history, whereas the fact was that he was not alive during the period in question. People should apply common sense while responding to social media content.

There are youngsters who come up with brilliance in the social media platforms. At a recent hackathon in an educational institution, there was an amazing performance by a school student in respect of machine learning. It indicated the kind of interest shown by the young and the potential for applying brilliance.

We need to have an approach in handling the social media; it is our responsibility.  Technology options should be used in a creative way, and one should use it responsibly.

Sreekumar.R., mediaperson

Many people are constantly worried about missing the social media posts. Absence of monitoring could lead to misuse of social media platforms meant for studies.  Cyber security is a big opportunity for youngsters.

Santhi.B, EEE Department, RSET

We have to educate children on the use of social media. What is being chosen is important. More time spent on mobile means the person is open to more radiation and could face the resultant health hazards. Restriction on time and choice of content are important.

Bency Wilson, IT Department, RSET

Social media could be utilised for the purpose of study. Communicating with students on WhatsApp has been found to be effective. The energy spent on playing games on social media platforms could be channelised for learning.

Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran, Director, Rajagiri Media

How to make use of modern technology to the advantage of humankind is a challenge. Technological advances could be made to overcome the negative impact of the social media. It could be widely used in the dissemination of knowledge and expansion of learning materials. 

Dr.VargheseS.Chooralil., CS Department, RSET

A lot of technologies are emerging on the social media. Proper use of the technology is what matters. Concerted efforts should be made to achieve the aim.

Paul Augustine, CSE Department, RSET

Misuse of social media is a global issue. Most people do not know that whatever activity happens on the internet, it is tracked. We should copy good examples.

Harikrishnan.M., CSE Department, RSET

 The individual is responsible for the wrong use of technology. The restriction on use of social media should be exercised at homes. Care should be taken to ward off children from getting addicted to social media.

Dr.Biju Paul, IT Department, RSET

Technology is a boon to mankind, but it could turn into a bane if not properly handled. We should take utmost care to ensure appropriate use of social media

Edward George (president, Rajagiri Old Students Association)

Maturity in handling the social media could be attained over a period of time. The criticism against social media is somewhat similar to the one witnessed years ago when the mobile phone was introduced. Many of the posts appearing in WhatsApp and other social media platforms are educative.  

Mensah B.K, Samuel Maoza and Fred P.B., engineering students, also took part in the discussions.

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