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For women, their online experiences are usually positive

For women, their online experiences are usually positive, empowering and safe. However, sometimes they rely too much on their own judgment in making decisions online which they end up regretting…

When we talk about problems related to women, the top most priority is given to their safety. No one can ignore the harassment women face on streets, in universities and at workplaces but did you ever know that harassments take place even over the internet.

Today, teenage girls are extremely computer savvy. They seem to know anything and everything happening in the internet world. They are not only prone to information and entertainment but also to the online sexual content. Computer-savvy girls are considered ‘smart’, ‘informed’, and ‘social’ and most agree that girls who do not spend time on the computer have higher risk of being regarded as unqualified for good jobs in future. After all, computer usage has become an important part of your curriculum vitae (CV). Besides that a lot of girls also take it as a way to build social self-confidence and for them their online experiences are usually positive, empowering and safe.

However, sometimes they rely too much on their own judgment in making decisions about how to behave online. According to an online research about how the girls can differentiate between harmful and harmless behaviour, 84 per cent cited their own common sense; 51 per cent stated that they followed their parent’s advice; and four per cent said “nothing is bad online because it’s not really real.” Unfortunately for some teenage girls, common sense does not always work right. The survey revealed:

* 30 per cent of online respondents reported that they had been sexually harassed in a chat room.

* Only seven per cent informed their mothers or fathers about the harassment, as most of them feared that their parents would over-react and ban them from computer usage.

* Most girls try to avoid pornographic sites, calling them ‘disturbing’, but say they are frequently spammed to these sites accidentally.

* Some fail to see online crime as serious because it is in the realm of cyberspace.

Girls are extremely aware of internet dangers, but feel their parents underestimate their level of awareness about online risks. That’s when they start thinking that the elders don’t trust them enough to give them the power to the world’s information network which encompasses both positive and negative effects.

An estimate suggests that within twenty minutes an online predator can target a teenage girl in an internet chat room; every information is readily available online and one can learn every possible personal detail about the girl. Any material placed on the internet stays there forever and can be misused in many dangerous ways.

A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project states that a lot of naive girls have been the target of menacing online activities, such as receiving threatening messages, having their private e-mails or text messages forwarded without consent, having an embarrassing photo posted without permission, or having rumours spread about them online.

Internet bullying has become a common practice among internet users too. The stronger one takes the biggest share which is an important characteristic of forums and discussion panels. In terms of the cyber bullying, girls are more likely to be bullied than boys and the hottest target becomes the girls of age group 15 to 17. Moreover, teens who use social-network sites such as Orkut and Face book and teens who use the internet on a daily basis are also at higher danger of cyber bullying.

The most common form of cyber bullying is someone taking a private e-mail, instant message or text message and forwarding it to someone else or posting it publicly. The best advice for teens here is that they should not say anything secretive or inappropriate in their electronic communications. Young boys and girls are even advised not to participate in social networking sites.

But can we really stop them from doing so? We can’t deny the fact that such websites have become a standard in communication medium for teens and they may feel socially excluded if they do not participate. Thus, if they do participate, they should take every possible step to protect their privacy – such as interacting only with known friends – by not disclosing much personal identifiable information.

While there is much concern these days about threats to teens online, an interesting aspect of the memo is that people are more threatened offline than online. This could be either in the form of emails or text messages you receive. Even on forums, the topics related to you heats up more when you are actually not replying online. Thus, it is important to focus on preventing malicious conduct online.

Amongst cyber bullying and cyber harassment how can we forget the most familiar net trait of our society – cyber romance! With the growing use of internet the number of net romances are increasing too which results in blind dates. And, if things work out then it can even lead to a full fledge relationship. But, not all internet friendships develop into successful love affairs and then result in a happy family. Usually, it turns out to be disastrous so emotional girls, are advised to keep their eyes and minds open.

After unsuccessful relationship or heartbreaks the girls generally don’t discuss their feelings with any one. At the same time, most girls think they are ‘too smart’ to get away with anything they do on the cyber space. For them; just don’t fly too high that you can’t bear to stand again after your first fall.

Source: The News

Date:12/4/2007

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