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Time to detox, govt steps in

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ recent report said that social media platforms contain a lot of content which are neither appropriate nor effective for children’s mental growth.

Time to detox, govt steps in
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CHENNAI: Social media is where our students live these days. It’s part of their digital footprint. It’s where most of them meet their teachers and friends even after two years of pandemicinduced lockdown. However, with social media’s rampant misuse by the student community — be it school-going or those studying in Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) — setting off alarm bells, the Tamil Nadu government has decided to bring in a comprehensive remedial programme which will now be introduced in all the institutions.

Academicians too attest that the two-year lockdown has made several changes in the mindset of many students, who were forced to depend on gadgets, mainly mobile phones, for online classes. With the mental health effects of social media on students having triggered a debate with no consistent results, contrasting viewpoints exist on the impact of time spent on mobile phones on the mental health of young adults.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights’ recent report said that social media platforms contain a lot of content which are neither appropriate nor effective for children’s mental growth.

The report further revealed that social media can be anything from violent or vulgar content to instances of online abuse and bullying of children and hence proper oversight and stricter enforcement are necessary The at specific this point. survey revealed that the students are misusing social network tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram resulting in untoward incidents. It is in this context that the Higher Education Department has come out with a plan to help the young adults come back to the normal stream.

Remedial programme targets parents as well

The Higher Education Department has come out with new guidelines that need to be followed to educate the students, even at the school level, regarding the use of social media.

A senior official from the Higher Education Department told DT Next that the management and teaching community would give counselling to the parents of the students and request them to spend more time with their wards and advice about the ill-effects involved in the abuse of networking sites.

“There would be exclusive classes for the students as well as the parents on how to monitor the electronic gadgets and also ways to effectively use parental control apps,” he added.

Stating that it was also decided to conduct parent-teacher meetings once a month, the official said an awareness programme will be conducted among the school students by screening short films on behalf of the state government.

Academicians rue cell phone abuse

The chairman of the Tamil Nadu Association of University Teachers, Dr P Thirunavukkarasu, said before the pandemic situation, students were prohibited from carrying mobile phones to the classes as it was then treated as an offence. “However, the devastating COVID-19 pandemic lockdown has forced the students and teachers to use the mobile phones extensively for communication,” he said adding “however, there was a change in the psychology of the students, who started indulging in offences due to negative social media influence”.

He said since the pandemic situation is under control and physical classes have started for both school and college students, seminars, workshops, and meetings should be conducted to explain the impact of social media on the students and also parents.

Expressing serious concern over the rampant abuse of mobile phones by students, Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Association president PK Ilamaran said counselling should be given to the parents on the need to spend more time with their children.

“Teachers and professors should be told to give counselling to their students,” he said adding “the schools and colleges should only caution the students and provide the required information more softly”. Ilamaran also suggested that virtual subjects should be included as a part of the student’s curriculum.

State Platform for Common School System – Tamil Nadu (SPCSS-TN) general secretary Prince Gajendra Babu said the educational institutions must enlighten the students on their rights and duties as enshrined in the Constitution of India. “Moral policing will not help students to correct their course”, he said adding “it will only force them to find alternative mechanisms”.

Gajendra Babu said the issue of using electronic gadgets must be seen as a health issue, both mental and physical. “Higher Education Department must discuss with universities and higher education institutes to work out modalities to enlighten the students on the physical, mental and legal effects of misuse of electronic gadgets including phone instruments,” he said.

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R Sathyanarayana
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