Legal alert on use of Social Media by teenagers

| 11 min read

Use of Social Media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and messaging platform WhatsApp by teenagers are a menace of the present-day surroundings in which we all are living. It must be admitted that the teenagers themselves are not always mature enough to comprehend the consequences of their actions on Social Media.

#BoisLockerRoom was an Instagram private chat group in which teenage boys were objectifying and making derogatory remarks on girls. There were allegedly 20 boys from prominent schools in South Delhi who were part of the group in which they shared pictures of minor girls and commented on their body parts. Apparently, a result of a whole generation growing up with so much easy access to internet amidst mainstreaming of sex-related content across various platforms.

One of the boys named in the controversy has allegedly committed suicide is a matter of grave concern.

As the criminal justice system has been set in motion and since the matter is sub-judice, it is important that we focus our attention on the need to cure the cause and what should be known to the parents of teenaged children using Social Media extensively, to avoid finding themselves or the children facing legal complications.

I am today going to discuss some points for care and caution that may be exercised both by the parents of the teenaged children and the children themselves active on Social Media to avoid any legal complications.

Speaking, writing, posting, expressing opinion on Social Media or otherwise has its own limits defined in law; Knowing and understanding of the limitations is crucial as some of it may amount to committing criminal offence and susceptible to prosecution and punishment.

There is thus a need for providing guidance, counselling, and knowledge to children making them understand the risks involved in using social media. Hence a list of precautions.

  • Please sit with your children, talk it out and caution them. Following steps could help avoid legal complications:
    • Avoid uploading, or sharing any inappropriate messages, images and video(s) of themselves or others; and
    • Avoid posting, liking, forwarding, or sharing any objectionable material objectifying or touching upon the dignity of women, sex, porn etc.; and
    • Avoid mean, aggressive, violent, abusive language, or making sexual comments and/or images; and
    • Never accept friend requests from unknown, unverified SM handles; and
    • Accept friend requests only from persons you know to be who they say they are; and
    • Avoid posting or sharing any photographs of self, family, and friends as much as possible to avoid misuse/abuse by mischievous elements; and
    • Never impersonate, be only what you are; and
    • Never share personal information with strangers – for example, phone numbers, date of birth or location; and
    • As a matter of fact, never add personal details like phone numbers or date of birth to your profiles online; and

The parents may also consider checking whether their children’s social media choices are appropriate vis-à-vis their age.

Remind the teens that what they post, or share can be used against them.

 

Rakesh Taneja

Advocate, Supreme Court of India

rakesh@netlawman.co.in

 

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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