Social Media Analysis- Safety & Social Media, addresses the key issues of social media in Sri Lanka and discusses the negative and positive aspects of the Government’s new free wi-fi project.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Telecommunication Ajith P. Perera announced in the first week of March, that the Free Wi-Fi project for all Sri Lankan Citizens will be commenced under 2 phases. The first 250 locations will be launched before March 31st, 2015, while the balance 750 locations will be completed within 60 to 90 days.
The project is spearheaded by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) with the support from all the telecommunication service providers in Sri Lanka. The 1000 free wi-fi spots includes all state universities, limited professional education institutions, all railway stations, central bus stands, ‘A’ grade base hospitals, public parks, public libraries, museums and limited Government offices and district secretariats. ICTA Managing Director/CEO Muhunthan Canagey said, “The distribution of ‘free Wi-Fi’ locations shall be proportionately distributed across all districts. The initial limit shall be 100 MB per citizen per month and can be accessed at a speed of 512Kbps.”
With the initiation of this project, we are definitely stepping into a new world- a world of limitless possibilities. It will help build a strong and educated generation who will foster innovation through ideas.
But a point to consider here is the correct use of this service. There should be proper safety measures in place to ensure that the service is not abused. However launching such a huge project in a short period of time should be applauded, but the security & safety of the users should be guaranteed by the stakeholders of this project. Access to pornography is at concern here, what are the precautions or procedures the managers of this project have taken in order to filter content and limit access for minors?
Amongst many youth suicide cases reported over the past couple of months, the Elpitiya girl’s suicide and the Kurunegala school girl’s suicide had ‘Facebook’ in common. While it would be wrong to blame this completely on social networking, it does demonstrate the dangers of online media when it is abused. The children of our generation who are exposed to this media on a daily basis should be taught how to properly use these tools, ‘for a better future’.
Last month, International Computer Driving License (ICDL) Sri Lanka joined forces with Dialog Axiata PLC and took a big step towards avoiding these catastrophes in the future on the Safer Internet Day 2015 in Colombo. They conducted presentations for teachers from 100 schools to help them coach their students on safe internet usage, whilst Dialog distributed notebooks, banners and posters to broaden the message of internet safety at the event.
These issues are not confined to Sri Lanka, according to global statistics over 51% of 13-17-year-olds have at least one profile on a social networking site, many spending more than 2 hours per day on social networking sites. With this numbers rising, we are looking at children getting exposed to more sexually explicit material, cyber bullying and drugs & alcohol through social media. The following statistics highlight the dangers of the social media;
17% of teens say they’ve been contacted online by someone they didn’t know in a way that made them feel scared or uncomfortable
30% of teens say they’ve received online advertising that was inappropriate for their age
- 39% of teens admitted to lying about their age to gain access to websites
Around the world, many individuals and non-profit organizations have taken steps to educate parents and children on how to correctly use social media. From online tips to real-time high school workshops, governments are addressing this issue very seriously.
The world is in the face of a digital age, and we should be grateful that our country is going to be a part of it, but the Government should proactively have necessary measures in place to address these issues.