Being born in the decade when television was a novelty and was affordable only by the boisterous affluent. 80's was a time when we as kids hoped to steal a glimpse of the latest gossip magazine under the scrutinizing gaze of our parents. Today's children have a lot more and equal exposure to the educationally good and the morally illicit content.
Three decades later I being a parent myself find it very hard to refrain my child from the excessive exposure of internet. Initially internet was a blessing for the every segment of the society, be it the scholars, the office goers, the researchers, the home makers, the avid readers, the movie buffs, the sports enthusiast or simply the ideal youth who found emails/apps to be a hassle free and cost free way to communicate with their loved one or friends. Internet still hasn't lost its sheen in our lives, instead it has penetrated very deep into our lifestyles. It has changed the way we encounter and challenge a problem. It has opened thousands of portal for the plethora of information that we are not aware of. Whenever we encounter a question that we have no answer to, we simply "Google it out". Gods greatest gift to man is the inquisitive mind that has led to our development from a wild wander to the modern man of today.
The knowledge is much more easily available to the seekers. No longer have the students had to stand in a long queue to hire a book from the library. Various authors and their publication are easily available online. E library is the new love for the book lovers. Not only books but also various research papers are published online. Internet has paved way to bring the culturally diverse country much closer. North Indians are crazy for Dosa/Idli and South Indians crave for stuffed paranthas. The Eastern "Macher Jhol" and "Prawn Malai curry" is relished by the entire country. The north Indian don't shy away from try making rasam and sambhar at home; thanks to the thousands of websites offering various recipes. International cuisine is also slowly making its way into Indian kitchen.
Trade has opened up on a grand scale and traders and weavers find internet the fastest and the best way to sell their goods to a clientele pan India and abroad. Tourism has increased many folds. The ease to book tickets and hotels online has substantially reduced the stigma associated with International travel. Hotel reviews are easily available now. Also, earlier the fear of unknown destination kept people away from opting international destinations, but now the ease with which we access the geographical, political, historical and cultural information encourage us to travel.
E governance is another blessing of the internet. Railway bookings, Online passport application, Online Income tax filing, Online claim of Provident Fund are a few among the many projects that have made the process much more transparent and there is little chance of data loss that is locked in files; that are eaten by termites every year.
Moving ahead with the debate, a small incidence that shook my belief in the concept of internet being a blessing for the mankind was when a two and a half year old toddler while playing on the I -pad, randomly opens up "You Tube" and types some gibberish in the search box, the website turns up adult content. The more troublesome question that arises is how to segregate the good and bad data for children.
Newspaper's are full of stories of revenge porn, where ex-husbands or ex-lovers are uploading intimate pictures and videos online. Some psychopath might hack into the webcam and record anything and anytime they want. Who knows some pedophile is lurking around my child's Facebook profile. Is the internet really safe? Not only keeps this, stories about grievous crimes committed by unknown online friends surfacing from time to time. Cyber bullying has ruined the lives of thousands of teenagers and many more are still caught in it.
Elders are equally vulnerable. Bank account details and credit card information can be accessed by hacking into ones email account. Many big multinationals are at a risk of losing data worth millions of dollars. Some big fake money making rackets are being run online. Some ask you to submit certain amount of money in lieu of a job offer, some make money by the number of clicks on the fake advertisement posted by them. Technology is an integral part of our life today and internet is the backbone supporting it. As an old saying in our country goes "Anything in excess is bad", so is with Internet.
Vasundhra Sen Jaswal