Social Media and Its Impact on Children AbstractThe advancement insocial media has become boon to people in connecting with people around theworld however this has brought about a threat to the society. With the changes,a new mode of commission of various crime has been identified. Today most ofthe people around the world spend their time on the virtual world failing todistinguish the virtual world from real world. People are abused, trolled,bullied on social media. Moreover, the most vulnerable people on these socialmedia are children. They barely know the pros and cons of such medias and areeasily the targets of abusers who are sitting behind a computer or some otherkind of gadgets.
This research paper is intended to deal with the excessive useof social media by children and child abuse that is caused in the virtual worldbut has its impact on the real world.In India, the legalframework does not allow anyone under 18 years of age to use the socialnetworking however, children openly lie about their age to be able to use thesocial networking sites. It is the need of the hour to look into thelegal aspects of the social networking and the child. Protecting the child fromthe cyber predators is one of the key concerns in India.
This article throwslight on the offenses committed to the child in the virtual space. It embarksupon various legal aspects related to the child and the use of socialnetworking.IntroductionThe way internet hasbrought changes in the life of people around the world India is no exception toit and it has affected how the people interact socially. In statics produced byStatista, an online statistic portal, shows that until 2017 in India there were196.02 million internet users and this figure is estimated to rise in 2018 to226.
06 million. Through the use of social media people can connect with otherpeople living across the world, exchange photographs and videos, post theirthoughts, participate in online discussion, and many more. This has made theworld a global village but since everything comes with a price to pay so socialmedia is no exception as well. With all the activity done online the personalinformation that is shared by the users may be collected and may also be usedagainst them.What is Social Media?The term “social media” refers to the widerange of Internet-based and mobile services that allow users to participate inonline exchanges, contribute user-created content, or join online communities.1Who a “Child” is?Convention on the Rights of child 1989 article1 states who a child is:For the purpose of the present convention, achild means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under thelaw applicable to the child majority is attained earlier.According to the Juvenile Justice (Care andProtection of Children) Act 2015 section 2 sub section 12 defines “child” as aperson who has not completed eighteen years of age.
India : A scenario onexposure of children on social mediaAccording to a Microsoft study on June 2012that more than 50% of the children in India using the net are either threatenedor harassed online. The ‘Global Youth Online Behaviour Survey’ conducted byMicrosoft, revealed that 53% of the surveyed children aged between eight and 17in India admitted they were victims of cyber bullying.2 A survey conducted by TataConsultancy Services found that while 84 percent of the respondents hadinternet access at home, 85 percent used social networking site such asFacebook and 79 percent owned mobile phone.3Exposure of children to inappropriate content is common not only in the socialnetworking but also available in the ambit of internet. While 56 per centparents are concerned about their children in 13-17 age group being misguidedonline, 42 per cent parents of 4-8 year olds fear that their kids could beexposed to adult material.
4Before exploring the legal aspects relating to this let’s briefly discuss theimpact on the child psychology. Children addicted to the social networkingwithout understanding the implications are falling victim. A Class 10 studentstabbing his classmate in a central Delhi school, apparently miffed at thelatter posting his photograph on Facebook.5A largenumber of minors were abused after making contact with unknown adults on socialmedia, a report from the National Police Agency has stated. The report cited1,421 recorded cases of children aged 17 or less falling victim to crimethrough their use of social networking services the highest number since theNPA started taking statistics in 2008. Nearly 80 percent of those minors becamevictims after using their smartphones.6 In India, a 13-year-oldgirl eloping with a 22-year-old man she had befriended on her father’s socialmedia. As per a news report the legal age to set up an account on popularsocial media sites such as Facebook which had led to debate in India.
In 2013,the Delhi high court had asked the Union government how children below age 18were being allowed to open accounts on social networking sites.7 A UNICEF report on”Child Online Protection in India” stated about how cyber offences againstchildren are spreading and diversifying as new methods are used to harass,abuse and exploit them. The report also stated that India does not have ahotline for reporting and removing online “child sexual abuse material” andlacked guidance, protocols or coordinated response. Current forms of childabuse and exploitation include:8Cyberbullying: emotionalharassment, defamation and social exposure, intimidation, social exclusion9Online sexual abuse:Distribution of sexually explicit and violent content, sexual harassment10Online sexualexploitation: Production, distribution and use of child sexual abuse material(Child pornography), ‘sextortion’, ‘revenge pornography’11Cyber Extremism:Ideological indoctrination and recruitment, threats of extreme violenceOnline commercial fraud:Identity theft, phishing, hacking, financial fraud12Habit formation andonline enticement to illegal behaviors: Access to alcohol, cheating,plagiarism, gambling, drug trafficking, sexting and self-exposure.13Grooming: Preparing a child,significant adult and the environment for sexual abuse and exploitation orideological manipulation.14LegalFramework Relating To Social Networking In IndiaThere is wide gap existing betweenthe Indian laws and the social networking.
The legislature should go a long wayto draft a legislation to tackle the problems of social networking. TheInformation Technology Act 2000, which is the only Act dealing with the cyberspace, is silent about the definition of child, minor, age etc. It is ironythat the issue of the age is not specified even in the Information TechnologyAct, indicating clear negligence on the part of the legislature in drafting theInformation Technology Act. section 2 (1)(w) of the Information Technology Act defines intermediary aswith respect to any particular electronic message means any person who onbehalf of another person receives, stores or transmits that message or providesany service with respect to that message. Hence, it is that the socialnetworking comes under the meaning of intermediary under the InformationTechnology Act. The act or omission that amounts to offence in the cyber spacewill be punishable under the Indian Penal Code. The act or omission thatamounts to offence in the cyber space will be punishable under the Indian PenalCode also. As the context and magnitude of the offence is different from theconventional crimes, the platform in which the offence is happening is itselfdifferent from conventional crimes.
Various social networking siteslike facebook prescribes the minimum age to register as a user is 13 and it isa standard form of contract. Nevertheless, it is not a strict requirement. Itleaves the option in the hands of the countries in which they are utilizingtheir service. Consumer Reports has found in its 2011 State of the Net Surveythat More than 5 million children are in the age of 10 and under well belowFacebook’s minimum age of 13 use the service. Despite critics’ concerns, thefact is that numbers of under-13s have already joined the network, bymisrepresenting about their age while filling in the sign up form. According toConsumer Reports, out of the 20 million minors who actively use Facebook, 7.5million are younger than 13, while more than five million are younger than 10.
15Section 18 of the Indian ContractAct defines misrepresentation as the person who making it may not warrant thatit is not true. In addition, misrepresentation gives positive assertion. Itmisleads the other to gain an advantage16.
Misrepresentation in the real world is punishable under the Indian Penal Code.Misrepresentation is referring to a false statement of fact made by one partyto another party, which has the effect of inducing that party into thecontract. The personal space given by the social networking sites can be usedto create personal profile that represents the user. Offencecommitted to a childCommon offences against a child inthe social networking are Cyber bullying, cyber stalking, sexting, molestation,trolling etc Cyber bullying actions that use information and communicationtechnologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by anindividual or group that is intended to harm another or others.
Cyber bullyingis when a child or group of children (under the age of 18) intentionallyintimidate, offend, threaten or embarrass another child or group of childrenspecifically through the use of information technology, such as a website orchat room on the Internet, a cellular telephone or another mobile device. Theactions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harmanother. Cyber stalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means tostalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. Itmay include the making of false accusations or statements of fact (as indefamation), monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data orequipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information thatmay be used to harass.Cyber stalking is a weapon used todamage the reputation of the victim. Cyber stalking is mainly for revenge, hateor retribution..
Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages orphotographs, primarily between mobile phones. Why talking so much about cyberbulling? This is one of the vital question that is to be answered before goinginto legal consequences. A new poll conducted by global research company Ipsosfor Reuters News finds that one in ten parents online (12%) around the worldsay that their child have experienced cyber bullying while one in four (26%)say they know a child in their community who have experienced the same. Ofthose, a majority (60%) say their children have experienced the harassingbehavior on social networking sites like facebook.
Three quarters (77%) ofworld residents say cyber bullying needs special attention from parents andschools while a minority (23%) think cyber bullying can be handled throughexisting anti-bullying measures. Cyber bullying in India can evenly be splitbetween social networking sites (55%) and online chat rooms (54%). Three out often Indian children have faced cyber bullying.17 ConclusionApparently, children are not onlyvulnerable to the social networking.
Many times, adults also fall prey to thesocial networking. Adult falling prey to social networking is always adifferent issue than that of a child because children who are more vulnerablethan the grown up.. McAfee India director V.
Krishnapur said in an interview,”Only 25 per cent of parents trust their children online withoutmonitoring them, though the trust levels increase as their kids get older. Ahealthy 73 per cent parents counseled their children on the do’s and don’ts ofusing Internet.” Most of the children are constructing a barrier between theirpersonal life and parents. Many social networking websites provide user with achoice of who can view the profile. In particular, sexual predators are workinground the clock to get victims.
Parents sometimes abuse the child by way ofaddiction to the games hosted by social networking site like Facebook andneglect their children causing a child to die from starvation.18 Child pornography is another one giant crimethat is committed all over the world offline. In 2010 it is a largest criminalcase against the children in a social networking site with hundreds of membersdismantled by law enforcement.
19 Acknowledging the reality, Facebook says thatit will provide a legitimate on-ramp that would allow a safer, more appropriateexperience for the youngest users20. Nevertheless, the social networking sitesoperate in different countries with different countries having different agefor child. Though the social networking sites provide minimum age to enter intothe service provided by them, they cannot enforce them. Also the verificationof the age is absent that anyone can create an account, there is nothingpreventive in it so millions of children under the age limit is using thesocial networking sites.
In India above 18 is a age for a person to use thesocial networking. A 2008 panel concluded that technological fixes such as ageverification and scans are relatively ineffective means of apprehending onlinepredation.21 Every social networking site contains termsof service which provides age limit for its users and others are restrictedfrom using the site. If anyone creating the account is more likely signing acontract, if anyone creates an account below the prescribed age limit s/he isviolating and it amount to illegal or misuse of service provided by the websiteand obviously attracts criminal action against the violator.
The most importantthing is that we need new policies on social networking. Lack of policiesrender the crime in social networking undetectable. The conventional laws arenot adequate to tackle the frequently changing cyber crime. Mostly the identityof the offender in cyber crime is very hard to identify. Tracking the cybercriminals need experts in that field. In addition, those experts should work inconsonance with the government authorities. In India, the present enforcingauthority is seldom skilled. The nature of the crime against the child incyberspace is very novel and so it needs an independent expertise enforcingauthority to implement the law.
Mostly these crimes are extra-territorial innature and pose a big challenge to the enforcing authorities. Many timestracking an offence needs cooperation of another country.1 MICHAELDEWING, Social Media: An Introduction, LIBRARY OF PARLIAMENT (Jan 15,2018, 8:06 PM), https://lop.parl.ca/Content/LOP/ResearchPublications/2010-03-e.pdf2 (Jan 13, 2018),http://www.
microsoft.com/security/resources/research.aspx3 4 5 (Jan 14, 2018),articles.
timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-18/computing/31764543_1_networking-sites-delhi-school-social-media6 7 Deepika KC, Children on social media-a predicamentfor parents and schools, THE HINDU (Jan 16, 2018, 9:29 PM)http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/children-on-social-media-a-predicament-for-parents-and-schools/article18587116.ece8 UNICEF India, Currentforms of child abuse and exploitation include, (Jan 16, 2018, 8:37 PM)http://www.
unicef.in/StaySafeOnline/fastfacts-Current-forms-of-child-online-abuse-and-exploitation.html9 Ibid10 Ibid11 Ibid12 Ibid13 Ibid14 Ibid15 For fullreport http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/05/five-million-facebook-users-are-10-or-younger.
html (Accessed 15/1/18)16 Section 18 of Indian Contract Act,1872- https://www.lawnotes.in/Section_1817 Ipsossurveyed a total of 18,687 citizens in 24 countries via online surveymethodology. For more Details in this survey please visit:http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/pressrelease.aspx?id=5462(Accessed on24-07-2013)18 http://www.
guardian.co.uk/world/2010/mar/05/korean-girl-starved-online-game(Accessedon 16/1/18)19 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/27/child-porn-social-network_n_591663.
html(Accessedon 16/1/18)20 Peggy Orenstein, let’s not update preteen tosocial media, Indian Express. Jun 12, 2012. Page821 nternetSafety Technical Task Force, Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical TaskForce to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State AttorneysGeneral of the United States. 2008 (published 31 december 2008); Mangu-Ward,Katherine (May 2009). “MySpace = Safe Space”http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf/ (Accessed on 16/1/18)