Is social media eating into demographic dividend?
Digitalisation, no doubt, is the best option for a developing economy like India, where people’s aspirations are continuously increasing. It is being said that if India is willing to compete with the economy like China, it will have to focus on the digital economy. However, it needs to be checked as to where India’s data are being used. Are these being used for the development of the country or being used for social media and entertainment? The gap between the society and the world is almost minimal due to the advent of social media. The speed of information is much faster on social media than that on traditional media.
According to several researches, people nowadays are in such a hurry that they are not even ready to wait for a few second on Google processing. They need the fastest network. This is important to mention that earlier they were the same people who would even wait for more than ten seconds on 2g network. Therefore, it is evident that people’s mind is gradually becoming like a machine. They are not controlling machine, but they are being controlled by machine. And, therefore, whatever information is coming to them, they are sharing and accepting it without taking even a minute.
India is the second biggest home of the world population with almost 1.3 billion people, nearly a fifth of the world. 50 per cent of Indian population are below the age of 25 and approximately 60 per cent are below the age of 35. It is being perceived that, till 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, in comparison to 48 of Japan and 37 of China. A large section of researchers, who are working on this issue, call it population dividend.
Therefore, it is obvious that the youths of this country are the primary users of social media. According to a report released by investment firm Omidyar Network, reported by TOI in 2017, Indians use their mobile phones mostly for social communication and entertainment. The average mobile internet user in India spends almost 70 per cent of the time on apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, and music and entertainment apps, which is much more than that of people in the US, who spends only 50 per cent of their time on social media networks.
On average, a user in India spends 200 minutes a day on mobile apps, lower than the US average of 300 minutes a day. Of the 70 per cent of the time Indians are employed on social and entertainment, 38 per cent is spent only on social media giant Facebook and its family of apps – Whatsapp and Instagram. This dominance of the Facebook family in India is far greater than that in the US, where their usage is only 18 per cent of a user’s time.
Now the question arises, is social media destroying the demographic dividend of the country? The perception has so far been that Indian colleges are unable to provide appropriate skill to their students. But, it cannot be gainsaid that excessive use of social media is hampering the innovative mind of students. If youths will spend their 70 per cent of the time on social media, how will they be able to face the challenges of their life?
One of the biggest tragedies is that instead of becoming a medium of communication, social media is becoming a place for time-pass. Earlier, youths would go for outdoor sports, but now youths are so hooked up on social media that they don’t give a fig for outdoor sports and instead devote their maximum time on digital games like PUBG and TikTok. These digital games are not only weakening youths physically but also mentally, besides collecting their data through their activity, which is also a threat.
Not only this, it is also penetrating their creative thinking, who are seek to achieve their goal without investing their time creativity. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that on one hand, if social media has brought people together, on the other hand, it has also separated people from the real and competitive world.
Against this backdrop, it is appropriate to say that the biggest menace to the country is the excessive use of social media by youths, which is becoming a serious threat to the demographic dividend of the country.
By Ravi Mishra