} Lalith Abeysinghe: 2012

Monday, July 23, 2012

Internet and Children

Internet and Children

“Lankadeepa” the Sinhala daily news paper (17 July 2012) reported that police arrested seven A/L students (3 boys/ 4 girls) as a person called the police hotline and report that these students were at the school around 6.30 pm. It was then revealed that one student was showing some indecent pictures to the other students through his mobile phone. In the same news paper it was reported that two youths were arrested in the Colombo- Baddulla train, as they watching indecent pictures through their mobile phones and   , making them visible to two girls travelling in the train. The two girls had warned them not to do this, and as the youths ignored them, they has complained it to the security guards. ‘Divayina” the Sinhala daily (19 July 2012) reported another incident stating that two youths were arrested as some indecent pictures were in their mobile phones.

Month ago, a driver of a Cab service, became friendly with me as I hired a vehicle for two days. Casually I asked him about his family, children and their education. It appeared as he was waiting for that occasion. He eagerly told me that he has three children a daughter and two sons. The daughter is sitting for the O/L exam in December 2012. He looked very disturbed, when he talked about his daughter. The reason was, that she has quarreled with him and his wife and demanded that she needs a mobile phone. As she was almost threatened (!) them they bought one and gave it to her. When I   was returning home with him, he phoned his wife, daughter and the youngest son (age 4 years) who was very cheerful and talkative and had asked them to come to some place near to my house. I realized that he wanted to introduce them to me. I then very casually asked about the studies. The youngest boy suddenly replied and said that the sister has a phone and farther scolded her. As the driver already told this story to me, I realized that it had become ‘an issue’ in the family. This driver told me that they were compelled to buy her a phone, fearing, that she will commit suicide! 

Some parents used to ask me similar things with regard to the mobile phones and computers and is good to get them for their children. It looks that most of the parents do not know a thing about the phones and the computers. (So am I!). Some of the children have bought a dongle too, or the internet connection saying that they are part of the computers. Some of the parents have told me that their children are studying very hard, and said that they have seen that their children working long hours with the computer. (!)

Some forty years ago, when we were in the O/L class, one of our classmates caught by the class teacher for drawing a nude couple. He was very good at Art and his parents hold very respectable positions. This incident became a huge issue and I remember almost all the teachers were discussing this with very heavy heads. Hope everybody could understand the position and the mental agony of this boy. We were about sixteen years of age. As far as I remember my classmate was punished but not suspended. But he was so disturbed and couldn’t perform well at the O/L exam.  It was some forty years ago and there were no computers and mobile phones. It was the era of pen (ink), pencils and water colors and an era of postcards and telegrams. Even the ball point pens were not there. I very well remember, when ballpoint pens come, we were prohibited to use them. 

Forty years ago, the curiosity of my ‘Artist Class mate’ was same as the youngsters of the present day. I also remember that there was a huge opposition to the “Chithra Kataa” and cassettes.  I wrote some article against the ‘Chithra Kathaa and cassettes. 

In recent times there are so many incidents reported blaming the children for looking at these indecent pictures. One of the girls of a reputed Girl’s School committed suicide as she was blamed. I read an article written by the parents of this girl and it was really a pathetic incident, for which the children are not responsible at the first place. These were not produced by the children.  Nor they introduce these things and internets to the country.  They are in fact the victims of the whole drama. 

Most of the youngsters are now very good in IT. They even are better than the adults. These children, at least most of them are experts in IT.  Most of them know how to get at anything if they want to. If they really want they could go in to these ‘indecent’ websites and they are capable of it.  There are also some incidents to say that, some of their friends (relatives) are seen in these webs. They then may be, want to see them. 

I once requested the University to open a ‘Community Service’ for the parents to come and get advice with regard to the Computer, IT, Mobile phone usage of their children. But there was no response. Supposing a child ask for these things, the parents could come to this service with the child and get necessary advice and guidance. It is also very difficult to stop children using these things. They may even barrow them from their friends or they go to a friend’s place to use them. There are also vast numbers of ‘Communication Centers’ in all over the country and at every junction. When these youth are in their own peer groups, these ‘topics’ could be ONE of their discussion points. First of all we have to accept this reality also.  

The most appropriate thing that a society could do is to educate these youth regarding the ill effects of these things. This is also like the drugs, cigarettes or alcohol. These things too are freely available in the society. But there is no evidence to say that ALL the youth are using them, they do not in fact. One of my friends, who smoke about 5-6 cigarettes per day told me that, he is very happy to see that most of the youngsters do not smoke. It is because of the awareness creation among the children and also involve them in anti-smoking campaigns and educational programs. There is also a need of Sexual Education for the youth at least at A/L levels. There was some opposition showed by some parents, when this issue came on discussion. 

The world become small and is becoming very small. The technological advancement is beyond imagination. The youth in any society capture the essence of these new innovations before anybody else.  The problem of the ‘indecent websites’ too has to deal with bearing all these things in mind.    

Lalith Abeysinghe.