September 7, 2016
The parents of a 16-year-old girl, studying in Class IX at a private school in Coimbatore, brought her for counselling to the Centre for Counselling and Guidance at Saraswathy Thyagaraja College in Pollachi, with a complaint that she was unable to concentrate on her studies. It didn’t take long for the counsellors to find out that she was suffering from cyber addiction, one of the serious problems among youngsters these days.
Though there is a general perception that only adults are involved in cyber crimes, S.T. Janetius, Director of the Centre, clarified that since growing number of students are addicted to the internet, the juveniles are also becoming both the perpetrators and victims of cyber crimes.
“We have been observing the students for the last few years and have identified that more than 40 per cent of them are addicted to the internet. The numbers could be higher in city colleges, and is all set to increase,” Janetius said.
Equating cyber addiction to drug addiction, Janetius also added that it may lead to decrease in the academic performance of the students, lack of social interaction, and even criminal activities.
“Cyber addiction affects the neurons in the brain just like drugs do, and we need to treat them like patients. Usually, these students are on the phones for more than six hours a day, and are poor in academics. A psychologist’s counselling is needed in such times,” Janetius said.
The centre was also planning to take the initiative among school students as cyber addiction starts at a very young age.
Increasing instances of cybercrime
Speaking to Covai Post, former DIG of Prisons, Coimbatore, P. Govindarajan, who also is one of the resource persons of the Centre, said that the rise in the use of smartphones and other gadgets have led to the increase in crimes over the years.
“While around 9023 cases were registered in India under the IT Act from 2011 to 2013, in which 4804 persons were arrested, around 2360 cases have been booked under the IPC during the same period, and around 2198 persons were arrested,” he said.
He further added that the number of cases have only increased by time. In the past three years, the numbers have gone up by more than 50 percent. “The usage has increased by 50 per cent, and the crimes by 63 per cent,” said Govindarajan.
He also opined that persons who involve in such crimes could be utilized in a positive way by the department in anti-hacking and other cybercrime issues.
“Joint efforts should be made by Ministries of Ayush, Human Resources and Development, and Information and Broadcasting, along with NGOs to prevent such crimes in the future,” he said.