This is a cry for help and a warning against the effects of what reaches us from the so called ‘developed world’, drowning us in delusional fallacies that shake our ethical mainstays and destroy our moral foundations. It is a wakeup call to alert us to the serious responsibility of scrutinising any material we receive on the World Wide Web, and accordingly decide what to accept and what to reject. We must realise that we are not before an ideal world that we may aspire to emulate, but one that has strayed and taken the path of “climbing into the abyss”.
Today I cite an incident which exposes a diabolic situation that has sneaked into western communities who brag about being the ‘developed world’, which in itself tempts youngsters and children in our eastern communities to follow in their footsteps. As I present the details of this incident, I advise you not to underestimate or belittle it.
I came upon that incident as I watched video footage I received from a friend. The footage, which carried no name, was delivered by an articulate young woman as a warning to fathers and mothers. A UK coroner, she says, in September 2022 announced the conclusion of an inquest into the suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell who took her own life in 2017. The inquest concluded that social media content had contributed “more than minimally” to her death.
Following thorough investigations, the inquest found Metaverse, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, guilty of contributing to Molly Russell’s suicide. This prompted a reaction by the heir to the British Throne, Prince William; although it is unusual for a member of the Royal Family to comment on any legal proceedings. “Online safety for our children and young people needs to be a prerequisite, not an afterthought,”, the Prince of Wales said in a statement.
Molly Russell was a healthy girl who was flourishing at school. Like many girls of her age, she underwent depression. She went online to search for information about depression, and little did she know that the algorithm used by search engines would end up serving her a plethora of disturbing content that she never asked for. When Molly’s cellular phone and laptop were investigated by the inquest, it was found that during the six months preceding her suicide she had watched some 16,000 video clips on Instagram, 2,100 of which were about depression, self-harm and suicide. This in addition to 496 pictures regarding the same topics, which she received via Pinterest. Molly’s father, Ian Russell accused social media of “monetising misery”, and of guiding his daughter on a “demented trail of life-sucking content”.
The young woman commenting on the incident in the video footage I received said that she made a survey among social media users asking parents whether they knew the password of their children’s cellular phone or laptop. “Most of the answers came back negative,” she said, “participants in the survey commented that it is unexpected or near impossible for their sons and daughters to give their passwords to their parents. Shockingly, some parents said that they fully trusted their children’s choices and that they needed not know more than that, adding that their children can bear the consequences of their choices. I found it stunning that, while parents refuse that their children be subjected to hazards or immorality or indecency in the street, they abandon them as prey to much more serious hazards through electronic devices given to them without any control, check, or advice. It is not only about the hazards of depression or even suicide; other content such as pornography or deviant sexuality may be served to them. Youngsters are innocently dragged into exploring such material out of curiosity; they would normally fall under its spell regardless of what you as a parent believe you have instilled in them. Your responsibility towards your children should drive you to inspect the material they spend their time viewing over electronic devices and social media. Within the family and at an early age, you have every right to set the rules and limitations that would control the content your children see; it is expected your children would abide by these rules. But if you wait till they reach adolescence, you will surely be met with waves of rejection and demonstration. I am putting you before your huge responsibility as parents to defend your children against the diabolic social media that is overtaking our lives.”
This is one instance that threatens our children, but it is definitely not the only one. Others will follow.
19 May 2023
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