One evening, as I sat on my porch swing looking at the sunset, I noticed Ria, a teenage girl, who is my next-door neighbour, standing on her balcony, head resting on her folded hands on the handrail. It was as if her silent eyes were trying to convey something very deep that was disturbing her. The next day I learned that Ria’s parents were worried about her missing out on her online classes since the past one week. After much persuasion, she opened up. She was being bullied and abused online. She was someone who was fascinated with social media and almost regularly posted updates, but recently few youngsters of the opposite gender used her morphed images online and sent her obscene texts. Even though she deleted her accounts, she was living in constant fear of the consequences of confessing it to her parents.
Newport Academy cites the shocking statistics of teenage social media addiction. About 92% of teenagers go online every day and 24% of teens are online ‘almost constantly’. “Insomnia, relationship problems, anxiety, depression and poor academic performance are consequences as well as symptoms of the problem,” says Dr Minaj Naseerabadi, a psychiatrist at Apollo Hospital, who has social media addicted patients who are as young as twelve.
Dr Leema Dhar is a novelist, bilingual poet, columnist, motivational speaker and guest lecturer. She has written seven books, including five novels, in the arena of modern English literature (three national bestsellers) and two anthologies of poetry in Hindi and English.