India’s internet economy is expected to double itself to reach $250 billion, according to a report by BCG-TiE. While the total number of mobile internet users is expected to grow to almost 650 million by 2020, users with
high-speed internet access is expected to be around 550 million. This can prove to be a huge boost for the internet economy. Data consumption is set to expand to around 7-10 GB per month per user by 2020 from the current 700 MB per month per user, says the report. “It is essential to understand the three forces that are now synergising to unlock internet consumption in India - 4G enabled devices, reliable high speed data and proliferation of digital content,” Nimisha Jain, a BCG partner and the report’s co-author said.
With increased internet connectivity and enticing online activities, people are spending large portions of their time in pursuing online activities like learning and communicating. The internet is being used to entertain and is often enabling the users to create a world of their own. People are increasingly being alienated and are seemingly more comfortable in their virtual world. Excessive internet use is turning to addiction. There is a thin line between healthy use of internet and problematic use of internet and the younger generation is getting more attracted to the latter. The addiction these days is mostly seen among the “internet-dependent” individuals who are attracted towards interactive platforms like chatting, games and shopping. The non-dependent internet users use the internet less compulsively.
Work hours wasted
Personal internet usage at workplaces is becoming a problematic issue for employers. “Nowadays, people are spending excess time on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Studies say adults in the age group of 20 to 29 spend about two to three hours on their social media accounts. The group mostly includes college students and young working professionals. The age group mostly uses the social media sites in order to enhance their network and to stay updated. It is estimated that the average American spends nearly one-quarter of their work day browsing social media for non-work related activities,” Anoop Mishra, a social media and digital marketing strategist, informed BE.
According to a report by Indian Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (IJOEM), titled ‘Internet use at workplaces and its effects on working style in Indian context: An exploration’, personal internet use at the workplace ranges from aimless internet surfing to personal goal-driven non work-related use of the internet. Employees spend at least one hour on non work-related activities during a regular work day.
Another survey conducted by Salary.com says that a majority of employees regularly spend time surfing the internet on websites unrelated to work. The survey revealed that around 64% of employees visit non-work related websites every day at work. Of that group, 39% spend one hour or less per week, 29% spend two hours per week, 21% waste five hours per week, and only 3% said they waste 10 hours or more doing unrelated activities. The younger, more tech-savvy worker demographic appears to be the biggest group of recreational web surfers. Of employees between the ages of 18 and 35, approximately 73% reported spending time inappropriately at work on a daily basis. “This trend has led to limited access of social media sites in many corporate offices and work places globally,” added Anoop Mishra.
Rise in fake news
Facebook and WhatsApp have become platforms for fake news circulation. Fake messages are often circulated on WhatsApp that have often led to communal flare ups. “Fake news can mean different things, depending on the context and purpose. The psychology behind it is to confuse and mislead people. If you see, much of the fake news that floods the internet during the elections consists of written pieces and recorded segments promoting false information or perpetuating conspiracy theories,” said Mishra.
Facebook, on the other hand, has become a platform where people can post and circulate anything without having substantial proof. Recently a picture of Eldho, a native from Angamaly, Kerala did rounds on social media with the title ‘Kochi metro’s first snake’. Later it was revealed that Eldho was a deaf-mute person who happened to fall asleep on the metro and was portrayed as a drunkard. The video of him sleeping went viral and people started cursing and making fun of him without checking on facts. Media portals on social media often spread false news about celebrities to increase their readership.
Online rumours often mislead the public and disrupt social order. If proper action is not taken, these rumours will undermine the role of the internet to increase social transparency. There are websites to expose internet rumours like Snopes, TruthOr-Fiction.com, Urban Legends and others, which can be used to track authenticity of online information.