Notwithstanding the fact that the Internet has changed the world, there is a particular age segment which has been taken by storm – teenagers! Here’s a no-nonsense look into how internet has affected the lives of Indian teenagers.
Knowledge and information
The first thought that comes to mind when thinking about how internet is affecting the Indian teenager is the access to virtually unlimited amount of knowledge and information. Gone are the days when teenagers had to flip through book after book in the library to finish their school projects or when they had to rely on myths and rumors when it came to having access to knowledge about certain sensitive issues like sexuality and teenage development.
This has also brought in the complex dimension of differentiating between authentic, research oriented material and trash that is posted on the Internet. In fact, the way in which libraries and structures and built, is also rapidly changing because of the Internet.
Exposure to different life concepts and cultures
We are not going to argue whether exposure to different life concepts and cultures for Indian teenagers is a good or a bad thing. That’s a separate moral debate best left untouched. The fact is that internet has suddenly left Indian teenagers exposed to different cultures, different ideologies and different concepts on the very basic notion of how to live life. From cultures of the western world to cultures of remote civilizations, the internet has made perception of life in general, extremely individualistic. Even if an average Indian teenager hasn’t been abroad, you wouldn’t really be able to make out from this high level of his/her exposure.
Exposure to vices and ill habits
The internet is a no holds bar information portal that really has no real life restrictions when it comes to filtering out content for teenagers. Let’s consider the typical example of pornography websites. A search in any search engine will arm the Indian teenager with thousands of websites offering pictures, videos and lots more.
Some websites may have a disclaimer which want the user to confirm that they are 18 years or older. But is that really going to stop Indian teenagers from entering the website? Pornography was just an example. Indian teenagers have a free for all access to other information regarding drugs, sexuality and other habits which are condoned by the moral police.
Concept of relationships
1990: A friend was a person who you’d meet regularly and have many real memories to share with. A long distance romantic relationship was about romantic love letters, long distance phone calls and a burning agony of being separated.
Fast forward to 2011: A friend is a person whose profile has been added to your own social networking profile. A long distance relationship isn’t much of an agony because the internet allows you to be in sync with your partner’s whereabouts and activities, minute by minute. And if you miss him/her too much, you can always hop on to have a quick and intimate video chat.
We are not trying to opine on which concept is better or worse, but what we do know is that internet has changed the very basis of the concept of relationships in the mind of the Indian teenager. You really wouldn’t be surprised if a guy in Mumbai told you that he was dating a girl from Madrid, would you? Forget that, these are the times when people are taking cross country music lessons over Skype!
Challenging norms and traditions
Needless to say, the internet challenges the very thought of traditionalism and conventions of a cultural and religious India. In a land where culture, religion and values come before anything else in the world, internet is ruffling quite a few feathers -whether it is challenging traditions of how to build a house, how to use frozen food, how to live a nomadic life by taking backpacking trips or something as absurd as a woman looking up ways of becoming a pilot and a man looking up colleges to study catering.
The power of Internet has made the Indian teenager stand up and question certain norms that have been prevailing in India since time immemorial.
What’s your take?