How Does Allowing the Internet to Operate without Censorship Affect the Society?

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Introduction

I chose this topic because as a teenager myself, I’ve grown up in a world that has invariably revolved around social media, leading to feeling anxious or nervous on a daily basis. Nowadays, our society is facing a variety of issues that cause controversies, such as, religion, moralities, human rights or economic crisis. Social media feels like a burden sometimes. This generation relies on the internet and somehow, we are all connected by the internet. Millions of people brought together on to one platform. Though the internet is a free place, I believe that the restrictions held for us are extremely important and prevent us from ruining our lives. This topic is something I have always been interested in as I’ve always been a teenager whose life revolves around social media. One of the most talked about on-going issues in our society is “Is censorship necessary,” hence my interest in this topic.

Communicating with the internet has changed our entire generation. Nowadays, phones are useless if they do not have applications such as “Snapchat” or “Instagram,” used by 71% of teenagers around the world.[footnoteRef:0] These applications let us communicate through different ways. Teenagers go on these applications to be updated daily on what their friends are doing and update their profiles. Teenagers find the need to post about everything they do, from eating to studying. There is no privacy left in their lives anymore with social media on their phones and laptops. [0: ]

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Though social media has its benefits, such as, whenever teenagers may not know the definition or something or do not understand a particular topic in their syllabus, they can always refer to the internet and find more straightforward explanations. The internet can be used for academic purposes, however, social media has caused a lot of issues in teenagers lives. Issues such as cyberbullying, privacy and fake news arise from such platforms.

How do we find balance with social media? As bad is it already is, imagine having the internet operate with absolutely no restrictions at all.

National Perspective

In China, the government spends a huge amount of money on internet restrictions as it is one of the most extensive in the world due to the laws made and administrative regulations. A huge amount of more than 60 internet restrictions has been implemented in China.[footnoteRef:1] The government authorities don’t just block website contents, but they also monitor internet access of every individual and are able to see what everyone is doing and monitor their activity. Social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat (applications used by almost every teenager) has been restricted in China. These precautions have created the name, “The Great Firewall of China.” [1:]

If we lived in a country where every single thing was monitored, it is pretty evident that the citizens would be aware and conscious of what they type and search for on the internet. As teenagers, we are exceptionally socially active in our lives and love to communicate in every way we can. In other countries, communicating via social media is nothing new; however, in China, it is nearly impossible for teenagers to communicate unless being face to face.

Letting the internet operate without any restrictions in China may not be as bad as allowing it to operate in Indonesia as Indonesia is a free country and not many restrictions are applied. In China, teenagers may not even know what social media is. They are not exposed to the same community other teenagers are. Their perspective and mindset may be entirely different and unique without social media.

Possible Scenarios

Letting the internet operate with no restrictions at all gives teenagers the freedom to do whatever they want, it may even lead to them doing something illegal. When we are given too much freedom, we certainly will take advantage of it, which may not be the best thing. Teenagers may not realize it, but one small mistake has the capability of ruining their entire future. When you post something on social media, it doesn’t go away. A teenagers priority should be getting into universities; however, it is tough to get into good universities, and something as small as an inappropriate post could jeopardize their entire future. Teenagers could also be exposed to inappropriate content, and since they are still immature and unaware of certain things, they may take it in the wrong way, and it could change their perspective on certain things. If they see something they’re not meant to be seeing; it could leave them traumatized as they have not entirely lost their innocence yet. Another huge consequence is the invasion of privacy, and the internet has access to every little detail about us, imagine if that information was leaked. Teenagers could have people stalking them and tracking their every move which may lead to depression or anxiety. Teenagers need their privacy more than anyone as they need to build skills such as independence and confidence. When we make mistakes while we're alone, we don’t care as much because there are no traces, however, when someone is monitoring another’s life 24/7, every single thing may be documented when witnessed.

Personal Perspective

In my perspective, as a 16-year-old teenager living in Indonesia, where the internet operates with barely any restrictions, I feel like social media does take over a massive part of my life. In my school, the internet is used for a lot of school projects and assignments. I do a lot of research on the internet for academic purposes, and in that perspective, the internet indeed is more convenient and useful. If I do not know or understand something, my first instinct is to do some research and find information regarding the topic. The internet is not always safe as sometimes I unintentionally encounter things that are not appropriate and it may even change my perspective on certain things. I have almost every single social media application downloaded on my phone, and I certainly do not think social media is healthy in a teenagers life; however, it is a great way to communicate with my friends and family. I believe that restrictions are reasonable and the internet should not be completely free as there are sensitive and controversial topics. In my opinion, yes, the internet is a big platform and sometimes it is understandable when we encounter things that we should not be seeing, however, this can be prevented by imposing censorship on these sites.

The controversial TV show, 13 Reasons Why is banned in several countries; however, I had the privilege to watch it due to the lack of restrictions in Indonesia. The show brings to light many vital undiscussed issues like rape, bullying, how teenagers change as they grow older and, of course, depression and suicide. The show is about a teenager named Hannah Baker, who is just like any other teenager; however, she gets bullied and raped, causing her to commit suicide. One of the huge causes is cyberbullying. Someone posted inappropriate content of her, leading to depression. She felt as though she had no one and the more she tried to ignore it, the more the truth came back, haunting her. Another vast cause is stalkerism, due to the lack of restrictions in the US, her address and personal information was easily accessed and private pictures of her were leaked through a stalker, prompting her to commit suicide. This TV show revolves around an American teenagers life. In America, the internet censorship is not as strict as it is in China, as described above, the consequences of letting the internet operate with no restrictions are significant and should not be taken for granted. [footnoteRef:2] [2:]

Global Perspectives

The report research about censorship has stated that Syria, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, and Uzbekistan go with Iran in terms of internet freedom. Iceland was ranked first as the nation with the most internet freedom in terms of censorship. In May 2014, six Iranian teenagers were arrested for recording a parody video of them dancing to the viral song, “Happy” by Pharell Williams, which got a ton of views and went viral. 97% of households are connected to the internet. Estonia, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the United States made it to the list, after Iceland. They were also arrested for practicing a religion, Sufism, online. A study has shown that 39% of people around the world believe that internet access is critical and crucial. Websites such as “Facebook” and “Twitter” are considered politically sensitive, resulting in them being blocked in Iran. The citizens are not given enough opportunities and platforms to achieve more than they already do. Sometimes, academic work could be better and improved when platforms like these are used for research purposes. [footnoteRef:3] [3: ]

Possible Solutions

I believe that some solutions and measures should be taken to prevent this from happening. The government should take censorship seriously, however, there should be limits on the number of sites or things blocked on the internet. If we have barely any freedom, like teenagers in several countries where almost everything is censored, this would be a waste of the enormous platform, that is, the internet. The internet certainly has its withdrawals, but it can be used effectively to reach milestones. High school students should get the opportunity to do better, achieve higher grades and discover new things through the internet. The government should block websites that are not appropriate for sure, but social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat should not be blocked as it is a great way for teenagers to communicate and communication is a skill they will need in their daily lives, when given the opportunity to work on that, they could achieve more. I believe that specific measures should be applied; however, not too much. Teenagers should have some freedom but not too much. This way, they will become independent and gain self-confidence from the work they do. When they are given the opportunity to explore websites without that much restriction, they are free and think about the consequences of their actions.

Conclusion

Through my research and perspective, I can conclude by saying that the internet is a beneficial platform if it is used for the right things; however, this platform also has its drawbacks and content that should not be accessible, hence, I believe that censorship is undoubtedly required to an extent. Students can use the internet to clarify their doubts, however, the internet can cause issues such as cyberbullying, anxiety and privacy issues. As mentioned above, the example of the TV show “13 Reasons Why” is an example of the drawbacks of the internet and how an undemanding platform such as the internet can cause someone to lose their life. I believe that countries should have a good balance between censorship and blocking certain sites. By doing so, we will be able to get the benefits of the internet without having to face the unwanted drawbacks. As said by Zoe Saldana, “Our censorship has sort of gotten a little too far. Too much censorship is just as bad as having none at all. Children need to be exposed to things, because if they don’t see it, eventually, it’s not like it’s not going to happen, but it’s just that there needs to be a balance.”[footnoteRef:4] [4: ]

Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_China
  2. https://www.simplilearn.com/real-impact-social-media-article
  3. https://www.cram.com/essay/internet-censorship-is-it-really-necessary/FK8DW42SC
  4. https://thenetmonitor.org/research/2017-global-internet-censorship
  5. https://mashable.com/2014/12/17/internet-freedom-countries/#0GWjpPsnbmqt
  6. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/what-teens-think-thirteen-reasons-why
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How Does Allowing the Internet to Operate without Censorship Affect the Society? (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/how-does-allowing-the-internet-to-operate-without-censorship-affect-the-society/
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How Does Allowing the Internet to Operate without Censorship Affect the Society? [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/how-does-allowing-the-internet-to-operate-without-censorship-affect-the-society/> [Accessed 14 Jul. 2024].
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