Issues and Challenges

The Front Yard

I overheard somewhere that whatever you choose to post on social media should be the thing, which you can afford to display on the front yard of your house. If not, then definitely there is something wrong. After pondering over it, it became evident that undoubtedly ‘personal’ profiles on social media aren’t that ‘personal’ and whatever you post on the digital platform stays forever.
Gone are the days when a nation’s psychology was determined by its traffic and the nature of toys children play with. Today, with over 3.6 billion social media users, the war of information, personal branding, online businesses, etc., have become the norm and regulating the internet in terms of ethics, cybercrime and responsible behaviour has become imperative. In this digital era, a country’s perception depends on its technological use or abuse. The world, for sure, needs more globally responsible citizens by 2025, when the number of internet users is estimated to cross 4.4 billion.
Pakistan has more than 80 million active internet users, where adaptability towards technology is amazing as the country still struggles in terms of educational reforms, which is dangerous, of course! A country that has a promising future in terms of political and economic stability, a lot needs to be done to enhance not only Intelligence Quotient (IQ) of the citizens through education, but Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient (EQ) as well. We not only need educational revolution but also constant reminders for people to have a more responsible behaviour on social media.
We have recently seen commendable work being done by the Federal Investigation Agency after Pakistan’s National Assembly passed the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) in 2016. National Response Centre for Cyber Crime (NR3C) was set up to address all sorts of technological abuse (You can email at [email protected] or call 051-9106384 to report related cases). The centre not only maintains a rapport of having an unmatched response time while keeping the anonymity of the person reporting intact, but it is also creating awareness in the masses through television, print media and social media. 

Let’s take a look at the country’s technological scope. Do you know more than 30 million people in Pakistan are online every day and that Pakistan has more than 120 versatile endorsers that make it the 5th largest cellular showcase in Asia? Recently, we received the news that Pakistan’s freelance market experienced the fastest growth in Asia, currently ranking 4th in the world. On the other hand, let’s take a look on how the growing use of social networking sites impact our social skills.
Of all the internet users in the country, 40% use more than 4 apps. 88% of users prefer social media over family in their free time, lessening human interaction. 76% of the users make new friends and interact with old ones on social media. 10% of the users only use Social Networking Sites (SNS) to make new friends. 71% of active users are least concerned with family matters while 80% have more online friends than in actual life. 90% of users use SNS for connection with long distance family and friends. 53% of users use the internet for enjoying leisure time. 49% of users lack close emotional pledges. 83% of users agree on using it just because its trending.
Now the real question is how do we inculcate a responsible behaviour in all these users?
The Front Yard Test
As the article’s name suggests, the front yard test is a self-accountability mechanism where the social media users keep a thorough check on themselves. If there is something that cannot be posted at the front yard of your house for the public to see, then definitely the content doesn’t deserve to be posted under your name on social media for the world to see.
Living Portfolio
Always remember, you are what you portray or at least that’s how people perceive you. These days, people tend to build an image by seeing your social media profile. Your social media profile is a breathing resume and if you are negligent about your branding, you might not be able to get your dream job or admission in a university of your choice.
Character Building for Generations
We have always been told stories about our ancestors and we were forced to believe everything that has been told. Some of us want to know what kind of people our grandparents or their grandparents were, etc. Today, where change is the only constant, technological evolution on daily basis provides us a chance to communicate with the future by building strong, reputable, and responsible social media profiles. Responsible social media usage provides future generations a chance to know us better.
Research Apps before You Trust Them
Social media ‘trending’ is a trap. Conscious effort to not fall for everything that ‘trends’ is the need of the hour. Choose wisely as to what suits your personal profile. Remember, not every app is for everyone! Once you set your futuristic goals carefully, choose apps that benefit you one way or the other in building your rapport instead of destroying it.
Nothing is Private, Online
Once we were told, with a microphone you are never alone. Same is the case with social media. No matter how hard you try to keep things private, every single thing can be restored or made public one way or the other. So, it is tricky to keep private things private while using social networking sites.
Remember that the Internet Never Forgets
It’s hard for us to understand how something posted today could impact anyone in ten years. But the cold hard truth is that the internet is indeed forever. It never forgets. Even if you delete a photo or a post or an entire social media account, there are ways to find all of that information and those pages again. 
Take an Inventory of Your Time
Isn’t it shocking to see our screen time, every time we open settings on our mobile phones? Time is money, it is the most valuable asset of yours. Keeping a time track keeps our dreams on track. Today, world class leaders emphasize on the need of time management more than any other factor to succeed. 
Make Wise Decisions about Followers and Friends
Some time back there was a picture circulating the internet where it showcased a person’s funeral with only 3 to 4 people, however, he had 5000 friends on Facebook. That picture was a reality check for all of us. Isn’t it strange how particular we are while choosing friends in real life whereas we blindly connect with people on social networking sites who we don’t or won’t ever meet. This is one example of a highly irresponsible behaviour. Sometimes due to professional needs we have to build social capital but don’t you think we need to have a more responsible approach to selection?
Be Wary of Oversharing
It can be fun to “check in” to various locations or share the details of your upcoming trip, but knowing how to use social media responsibly has a lot to do with ‘not oversharing’. While this is a big safety concern, it is also about establishing boundaries and protecting your information.
Be Intentional About What and Where You Post
Every social media forum has separate content demand. It’s always wise to read terms and conditions before registering with sites or applications. We should also develop a habit of researching about the nature of each content we post. So that we know why we are posting it and which platform would be ideal for meeting its demands and maximizing the benefits. 
Update Privacy Settings
It’s very important to protect your personal information and one way of doing it is by not saving passwords on shared computers or devices and other small safety measures like updating your security information section in the privacy settings of any app that you’re using. 
Respect Others to be Respected
Apart from the measures listed above, we should learn to respect others. By respecting others, we mean to not be judgemental, to never post an inappropriate comment that might hurt someone’s sentiments or make them uneasy, to not tag them in photos or places or share their posts without their permission. 
Apart from this, to develop a more responsible approach on social media you should be aware of the country’s law regarding cybercrime, report an inappropriate behaviour or activity, block unwanted messages and posts, keep evidence if and when necessary, get help and support if needed and most importantly turn off notifications as and when needed. HH

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