Digital Trust Dialogues - Mithibai college students look for opportunity in the positive internet

Akansha Gupta
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Digital Trust Dialogues Mithibai College Google India Online Safety

How is the internet transforming opportunities for youth? At the Digital Trust Dialogues event at Mithibai College hosted by ‘She The People’ and Google, we put the spotlight on how the online world had opened new avenues for growth. This made the arguments and need for online safety even more compelling. Hence the idea of Digital Trust. What will it take for people to trust the internet? We put together a discussion between author Kiran Manral and writer, journalist and feminist speaker Meghna Pant moderated by Vandita Morarka who has experience in law and women's issues. They shared their experiences on how to benefit and protect yourself from the Internet.


Digital Trust Dialogues - College students look for opportunity in the positive internet

Vandita begins by asking the Kiran and Meghna how they have leveraged the internet? Kiran jokes about how her journey began when she realized social media was a platform where she could express herself. “It gave me space to air out my opinions, keeps me connected to the world events and puts me in touch with a diverse range of people, globally”. Meghna on her approach to technology explains that “You have to embrace technology for whatever you want to do in whichever field, whether you want to be an author or a lawyer” and how these platforms make knowledge more accessible.

One of the pressing topics that are especially relevant to this conversation is social media and its impact on self-perception, especially in light of the “like” feature on each platform, it creates a superficial world wherein self-image determines social interactions. Kiran begins by making a poignant point about what our internet and social media usage looks like “It's to validate your own existence, right?” she points out this dangerous trap is a two-way stream, wherein you also have to work to validate others in order to be validated. As a mother of a teenager, she stays wary of the way in which social media can influence levels of confidence, especially that of adolescents. Meghna, in response to this, advises young people to “embrace technology without letting it be the space that validates you.”

Vandita raised the concern about how we can democratize the internet to ensure its accessibility to women all over India. It was revealed that less than 1/3 users on the Internet in India are women and that they face serious challenges getting on the internet due to lack of exposure and suitable content for them. This brings us back to the underrepresentation of women in technology. Kiran lends her opinion on why that is. She explains “women have been restricted from using technology in fear that they will do what men do.” It is 'feared' that access to connectivity through the internet will lead women to having ideas, opinions a distinct sense of self and ambition. There is ample proof that women that have been able to access smartphones and that the internet has boosted their businesses. Kiran mentioned the Google initiative ‘Internet Saathi’ which has empowered rural women at the grass root level.

Kiran asks the audience at Mithibai how many people respond to online harassment, out of a class of 40 only a handful said yes. She explains the key to stopping it is to respond in the smart way- which is not to retaliate but to report and block users to their social media platform. She further explains that it is effective because, when the social media platform disables their account they will have to take the trouble of creating a new one and starting the process all over. This will force them to carefully consider what kind of online behavior is appropriate.


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