Published:  01:11 AM, 10 August 2017

Social media... and the risks

It has become our habit to pick up our phones and log into the social media, especially facebook profiles, immediately after waking up from sleep in the morning. We, sometimes attentively and sometimes absent mindedly scroll through several status, posts, videos and reactions.

Most of the times we are not aware of the disadvantages of social media. We share our ideas as status, we comment on other people's posts, we react with smiley, we like and we share both our own and other people's posts. It has become an inexplicable addiction for us. Without knowing why, we have become very much dependent on the social media. It has become a major source of our entertainment and a relief from boredom.

When we are offline, we are in privacy, in our own limited world of few acquaintances and friends and family. But when one is online, especially logged into a social networking site, he/she has to share personal information. The users have to disclose their browsing history, habits, likes and dislikes, information of family and friends and relationship status and who they communicate most. Unsolicited messages and pokes from strangers are common phenomenon.

Children and teenagers nowadays use social media more than ever before. They reveal their information without thinking or knowing much of the consequences. They are grasped into a virtual world which is full of online games and risky online trends. It is now known to all that militants use social media in different deceptive ways to gather personal information about people and through a very well planned way they choose their next target that they will persuade in various ways to join an extremist group.

Moreover, there have even been cases where suicide games were trending online, that children all encouraged each other to participate in. Such as, the Blue Whale suicide game is believed to be a social media group which is encouraging people to kill themselves. It's thought a group administrator assigns daily tasks to members, which they have to complete over 50 days.

The horrific tasks include self-harming, watching horror movies and waking up at unusual hours, but these gradually get more extreme. On the 50th day, the controlling manipulators behind the game reportedly instruct the youngsters to commit suicide. The horrifyingly dangerous game has been linked to at least 130 teen deaths across Russia and police in the UK have now started warning parents about the challenge.

Social media should be a platform for people to express themselves positively. But the opposite is becoming more intensive. If any celebrity, athlete or political party sends out a tweet that the public doesn't agree with, they can be taken down with vicious cyber bullying. It can easily change who you are and what you portray on social media, for fear of being criticized by the followers. Realizing that the virtual world is not real is necessary.

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