In Focus

Internet provides easy access ‘yet’ poses threat

By Vedika Jain

There is no doubt that social media has pervaded every aspect of our lives even our personal spaces. As a young country with a population of over 1.3 billion people, there were 560 million active internet users in 2019 that are estimated to reach 636 million active internet users in 2021.

With an average sex ratio of 940 females per 1,000 males, there is inadvertently a significant number of females who are active internet users at present and the number will only grow in the years to come. So, how safe are Indian women in cyber space? And is there a need for young girls and women to worry as the virtual world inches closer every minute?

In India, the highest internet penetration is in NCT of Delhi followed by Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab. The eastern states, except Assam and North East, have lower internet penetration. The penetration is rising with every passing day and among the metros, Mumbai has the highest internet population closely followed by Delhi. Also, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and NCT of Delhi have a higher proportion of female internet users. The male-female user ratio is 60:40 in Indian metros with a population larger than 5 million people.

The numbers and the sheer size of population that is actively sharing personal information and details on the internet through social networking sites and apps are staggering and worrisome. Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Quora, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn boast of billions of site visits and app downloads and millions of new subscriptions every month.

In India, the number of active social media users was 310 million in January 2019 which is expected to rise to 448 million by 2023. Facebook, YouTube being the most popular social media networking platforms and TikTok being the most downloaded app of 2019.

Several studies, trends and development in the recent years have managed to highlight the pros and cons of social media in affecting and influencing women rights movement. “In India, similar to several other countries, women lag behind their male counterparts in mainstream media and basically lack equitable representation,” says Lucknow-based Mass Media student Sonal Choudhary.

“Social media has successfully managed to reduce the gap and offered a level-playing field for women who can now voice their opinion freely,” she continues. It is important for women to speak up and be those voices that inspire and transform societies because “only women are sensitive enough to understand problems and find reasonable solutions.”