New Media and the Young (part-4)

Intervention Techniques

Given the range of positive and negative effects of social media on teenagers, it would be helpful to map out the strategies that could be undertaken by the government, our communities, as well as the individual. In this article we shall discuss the intervention techniques that can possibly be implemented by our governments – some of which have already been put into practice.

The Legal Approach

An effective method of taking action could be through legislation. There are ways that governments can step in to restrict the adverse effects of social media usage, even before it may affect the child or adolescent. Several attempts have been made with varying degrees of success:

The UK was the first to outline its tough stance on social media content. The government wanted to make their country safe from cybercrime and other detrimental activities and also making harmful content inaccessible to children. They also wanted to ensure prevention of false news (Department for Digital, Culture, Media, 2019).

The Indian government too has joined several nations’ bid to regulate social media (Trivedi, 2019).

In South Korea, the government issued a ‘Shutdown Law’ also called ‘The Cinderella Law’, in November 2011. The law stated that children below the age of 16 could not access gaming sites for a specific period at night and early morning. This however, was not applicable to those who used video games or their mobiles for these purposes. After protests from several bodies, it was later modified and children were allowed access if their parents requested an exemption (Lee, 2011).

In-Built Restrictions

Mobile phone companies and service providers can use parental controls and create in-built applications that switch off the mobile phone for a few days, if the child accesses inappropriate material or simply restricts access. Government agencies (“Taming the Technology”, n.d.), too recommend installing apps that control children’s use of the internet, after it was found that almost 25% of children under the age of 12 had been exposed to some sort of pornographic content (BBC Three, 2014).

Positive Psychology

A significant inclusion in the school syllabus would be a short, in-depth course in positive psychology which attempts to develop human values and empathy in children even before they encounter the world of social networking sites. The branch of psychology that deals with “the scientific study of human strengths and happiness” (Carr, 2011) which attempts to promote well-being by helping the individual to focus on positive traits, engage in absorbing activities and make meaningful relationships and participate in setting up positive social systems and structures.

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