The Secrets We Don’t Tell
The word Sarahah is an Arabic word and it means “honesty”. This new word is also an App that has gone viral because of its purpose, which is to send “honest” but anonymous messages to whomever you like. But guess what it is not the first app to exist and do so; there was the Secret in 2014 and then the Whisper in 2012.
Whisper still exists and on their website they have stated the following: “if would you like to prevent your child from having access to the Whisper app, you can do so by placing restrictions on their device.”
After the break out story of Edward Snowden there have been several attempts to have secret chats, for example the Telegram offers self-destruct option for your chats and end-to-end encryption where only messages are read by the its intended recipient.
Sarahah was designed so that employees could freely give feedback but when the teens caught on it became viral. The ironical part is that it was created in Saudi Arabia by a developer called ZainAlabdin Tawfiq and he did it because he thought it was the best way to share “constructive feedback”.
These secret apps are weapons of cyber bullying. In a recent survey titled “Eleventh National Poll on Children’s Healthy” by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in the US parents recognize cyber bullying as serious health and threat issue to their children to up to 30% of the cases.
According to the research done by the University of Birmingham, children and young people under-25 that become victims of cyber bullying are more than twice as likely to enact self-harm and attempt suicide than non-victims.
Just when we thought the Blue Whale Challenge is under control, India has been reporting a few cases across Mumbai, Delhi and Indore. This is an Internet game where after playing it for 50 days the player has to commit suicide. To show his progress, the player is asked to share photos at every level where there is also a sign of self-harm as that is part of the game.
However there are claims too that there is no conclusive evidence that this game really did result into suicides in Russia. According to a watchdog site SNOPES; they claim “The reasons teenagers commit suicide are well researched. According to data from the General Prosecutor’s Office, in Russia 62% of suicides among adolescents are associated with family conflicts and general distress, conflicts with teachers, classmates, friends, and also with the fear of violence by adults and callousness of others. From a report on the topic from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the increase in the number of suicides “occurs in times of economic crisis and sharp social change.” For example, in Russia there was an increase the number of suicides from 1987 to 1994, when the USSR collapsed. As soon as the company adapted to its new socio-economic conditions, the number of suicides stabilized.”
This actually also opens up a very serious problem that is probably being ignored over the hype of these “secret chat apps”. Why are teens and children gravitating to these to share their feelings and have conversations?
Fear should run down your spine because girls from 6 years of age are body and image conscious and dieting according to the Journal of Adolescent Health UK.
Also according to Young Minds UK one in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder –around three children in every class.
These are not related to Western or developed countries, because of the Internet accessibility worldwide even 3rd world countries are showing serious signs of children mental disorders and suicides. According to the World Health Organization “the burden of depression and other mental health conditions is on the rise globally. A World Health Assembly resolution passed in May 2013 has called for a comprehensive, coordinated response to mental disorders at country level.”
The main agenda should be to focus on the well being of children. They need secure and a healthy environment for their upbringing. However it is not that possible to have the parents or their extended families carry these responsibilities. The Government needs to step up the mental health policies and childcare. Even if the United States has that set up then why is there such a significant rise of suicides in children and mental disorders with the young ones? It is also about sharing culture and maintaining grassroots parenting. This is a vicious generation cycle, which will probably take another generation to fix. The danger is that technology is moving faster than we can control it or us.