Social Media Worse than Covid Pandemic

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

SOCIAL media addiction is spreading with as much or greater speed than the Covid-19 pandemic.

 It is therefore critical that all stakeholders work together to roll out an effective “vaccination” programme against the social media virus.

This is the view of the Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago (PCTT).

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PCTT in a media statement on Thursday stated that it stands committed to working with the Ministry of Education, parents, teachers and health care providers to educate the nation through the professional counselling resources of its newly created Beth-Rapha Mission, Sunday School and Youth Group Initiatives and Teaching Retreats and Conferences for the nations’ teachers and through specific programmes in its schools.

The PCTT said it has noted with alarm the widespread use and increased dependence on social media by children and adolescents since the Covid-19 pandemic in which young children now had “digital” babysitters, young people used more screen time both for education and socialisation.

However, several international studies have sounded the alarm that the increased use of social media was associated with increased incidence of mental health problems in particular, depression, anxiety, addiction.

PCTT stated, “These studies show that our children and young persons as a result, now suffer inter alia an increased risk of cyberbullying, online grooming, sexting, exposure to pornography and very early sexual activity.”

A fundamental element of the “vaccination” programme must be education of parents, educators, health care providers, children and young people as to the dangers of social media abuse and addiction, the PCTT stated.

The release stated, “We call on our legislators to focus on passing stringent legislation to increase the penalties for these types of sexual digital crimes, and to move swiftly to bring to Parliament detailed anti bulling legislation to protect our nation’s children and young people.”

The PCTT also issued a call to all religious, secular, governmental and non-governmental bodies to prioritize programmes to educate about the ills of social media abuse and to work together to reduce the abuse.

“We cannot sit by and watch our children and young people continue to harm themselves, the time to act is now to overcome this pandemic of abuse and addiction,” the PCTT said.

It vowed to continue giving prominence to ministering to the holistic needs of people in encouraging safe and nurturing environments, as well as creating a culture of care, compassion and concern, based on the principles of fairness and justice. 

The Church also issued a prayer for leaders and citizens to experience a better Trinidad and Tobago.


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