Home / FT View/ Youth and platforms

Youth and platforms


Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Wednesday, 14 March 2018 00:00


The Government’s ongoing ban on social media has been roundly slammed by stakeholders as an ineffective and damaging move. Earlier this week a student was arrested for spreading hate speech, underpinning the need to have a holistic approach on how youth use technology, including social media and the grave need to educate them to be responsible and accountable in their usage.   

A report released by UNICEF this year titled ‘Keeping Children Safe and Empowered Online: A Study on Sri Lanka’s Digital Landscape’, showed that  while 52.8% of young people in Sri Lanka access the internet – with the average age of first access being 13 years – there is a significant disparity along lines of gender, geographic location and economic wellbeing.

Among the 11-18 year age group, 67.6% of the boys polled were online, while only 33.1% of girls had access to the internet. Regional variances, as highlighted in the report, show that 67.8% of respondents from urban areas were online users, compared to 47.1% from rural locations and just 39.3% from plantation areas. The gender disparity could have strong repercussions in the future where employment and other opportunities will be defined by online access.

The second worrying trend is that a majority of children are getting online without adult supervision. According to the study, 53.6% of child internet users were ‘self-taught’ about the internet, compared to the 16.5% who had been taught by their parents.

With an estimated 6.7 million internet users in Sri Lanka in 2018 representing 32% of the total population, a rise from four million in 2015, internet usage is growing across all age groups. Yet whilst 28.3% of people in Sri Lanka are ‘computer literate’, this differs substantially by age, rising to 60.7% of 15-19-year-olds compared to just 19.9% of 40-49-year-olds. This represents a rise in overall computer literacy across all age groups since the report data was collected in 2015, the report said.

It is essential to ensure equitable access to the internet and digital technologies for all young people – especially girls, the poor, and those in rural areas – because equity of access ensures that all children can benefit from the opportunities these technologies unlock. 

Sri Lanka cannot allow a ‘digital divide’ to establish, grow and limit the life and employment prospects of a huge proportion of young people.

The report data also indicated that 46.3% of some 5,000 children polled had communicated with strangers online. Over 15% had shared their private information with strangers, while 28% had met them in person – 18.3% of whom had done so without informing family or friends.

Clearly, focus on online safety is a must by increasing the knowledge of both young people and vitally their parents, teachers and caregivers, so that they have the tools to handle the new risks these technologies can bring, including the misuse of private information, cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content or even its spread. 

The comparatively low computer literacy rate of adults is worrying in this context because not only does it limit safety but also pushes parents to ban universal access, especially for girls, as it could be deemed unsafe or giving access to behaviour deemed socially inappropriate.

Technology is an indivisible aspect of life and like many other aspects of modern existence it is best to be able to control it rather than having it control us.


Share This Article


DISCLAIMER:

1. All comments will be moderated by the Daily FT Web Editor.

2. Comments that are abusive, obscene, incendiary, defamatory or irrelevant will not be published.

3. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.

4. Kindly use a genuine email ID and provide your name.

5. Spamming the comments section under different user names may result in being blacklisted.

COMMENTS

Today's Columnists

In the desert of Tamil films, actor Sivaji Ganesan was an oasis

Saturday, 22 September 2018

‘Indian Film,’ first published in 1963 and co-authored by former Columbia University Professor Erik Barnouw and his student Dr. Subrahmanyam Krishnaswamy, is considered a seminal study of the evolution and growth of Indian cinema. The book is cit


Imran may turn blind eye to blasphemy law and persecution of Ahmadiyyas

Saturday, 22 September 2018

There are clear signs that Pakistan’s freshly minted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will make a sincere effort to reduce corruption and maladministration in the domestic sphere. In foreign affairs he is likely to make a brave attempt to mend fences wi


The rate of exchange, capital flight and the Central Bank

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Central Bank (CBSL) exists for the sole purpose of price stability. Its controls on the financial system and monetary policy exist to maintain price stability. As put forth many times by the Governor, the failing of the CBSL to control inflation


Red flag over the Sri Lankan Navy

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shocking story Rusiripala, a former banker in Sri Lanka, who has taken to writing in Daily FT, is perturbed by the red flag I have raised (Daily FT article 18 September) over the shocking charge that our Navy had operated a ransom gang that had abduc


Columnists More