With the covid pandemic imposing lockdowns and home quarantines, our daily consumption of the internet and digital technologies have also increased significantly. Our homes are no longer just physical residences but are becoming our own personal digital hubs. Can we let it shape our lives, is it necessary, and most importantly, is it safe?
By Santosh M
There is no denying the fact that, our daily usage and consumption of digital technologies and internet has increased dramatically in the past few months, all thanks to the pandemic. According to a source from Kaspersky daily, the number of online hours have increased by at least 33 percent for generation z(age 18-24) and millenials (age 25-34) and 42 percent increase in generation x (age 35-44), surprisingly.
This has led to the creation of “digital comfort zone “, which is basically a comfort zone but with a feeling of safety and security online and not worrying about data safety and security. For instance, we use apps and games which we feel is entertaining and amusing, although it doesn’t provide utility and growth, we place our favorite apps where we can get access to it quickly and easily, or using Alexa or any other virtual AI assistant to assist and comfort for our diligent schedules and leisure time. And this is true for not only the young and older generations, but younger generations namely generation alpha (born in 2010 or after) have also developed a habit of using digital technologies extensively, far more than they require. Apart from using technologies like smartphones, tablets or laptops for their online classes and e-learning, these young generations have shifted from physical games and enjoyment to almost entirely on digital technologies with the use of social apps like Tiktok, Facebook, Instagram, etc and online multiplayer games, creating their very own digital comfort zones. And most parents have also become lenient towards this transitional behavior, not because they are not concerned, but rather because they are rendered helpless with the current situation forced by the pandemic.
Although most of the people, generally those between the age of 20-40 have either thorough knowledge or a slight idea about privacy and security of using the technologies or the apps, most of the teens and children have little to no knowledge about the risks of privacy and other security exposures. And this is a very serious and important matter because, children nowadays have the capability of creating funny posts and memes and share it over the internet, which opens the door to cyber-crimes and cyberbullying. They don’t know about the risks and consequences of a post they created just for fun can sometimes lead to controversial issues which in turn, can attract bad influencers and cyber attackers. Apart from this, there is also the ignorance of accepting user agreements, privacy information, and other security-related terms of the apps and games we download without understanding them carefully. This has led to an increase in a number of cases relating to Cybersecurity and cyber-crimes. If we can use different filters for our Snapchat, or play with Talking Tom, then giving permission to storage, accepting terms and conditions or turning location services, becomes impulsive to us.
Millennials are commonly seen as the first digital-native generations and most of them consider themselves as “tech experts”. They love new technology and gadgets and have confidence in their knowledge about technology stuff. This can seem interesting but as the saying goes “ a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing”, the misconception they have can sometimes attract or lead to many crimes and harmful effects like isolation from the real world, change in behavior and lifestyle, health issues, cyber-crime and cyberbullying, etc.
In order to avoid or control these unfortunate consequences, certain steps or ground rules needs to be set up. First and foremost, parents need to supervise the behavior and activities of their children and restrict them from harmful apps or technology. Second, use apps that will bring growth and utility to us both mentally and socially. Third, we can limit the hours of using the internet and other digital technologies. Fourth, avoid the usage and downloading of unauthorized apps or games found on different illegal websites on the internet. Lastly, we can try to increase our knowledge on security and privacy relation agreements of the apps and services available in different platforms like Android, IOs, windows, etc., to have thorough and informed knowledge about the risk and consequences it will bring to us.
So, the next time you see a child using too much tech or download a new exciting app from your smartphones, tablets, or any other device, consider the risk and the consequences also.
(The writer is a student of MA mass communication, Manipur University)Digital Comfort Zone, Cybersecurity