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It’s said anything taken in excess in life is harmful to health. Be it food, drinks, alcohol, medicine or for that matter the current craze – internet. According to one of the last year’s report on online activity, it’s estimated that there are 51 million active internet users across the country and surprisingly 11 million or 21% of the users are from rural India. This speaks volume of the penetration of internet in our daily lives.

Today, most of the day-to-day activities can be conducted through internet such as buying stuff online, banking activities, communicating with your loved ones across the globe, getting medical advices online to buying a paan from your neighborhood muchchad (mustached) paanwala. Life certainly has become simpler and internet has been instrumental behind it. Rather then go to the market to buy a pizza, with just one click of the mouse and the pizza is delivered at your doorstep leaving ample time for the user to pursue other interests. But does he use the free time for something worthwhile? Well no. He does what he does best – waste away his time on internet. The result?

According to another study conducted last year, India has the dubious distinction of rising up to the 5th position in the world where cyber crime is concerned. A big leap from the 11th position in 2008! And with India’s internet population continuously growing at an alarming rate and spread across the demography area wise and age wise, there is a disturbing possibility that some day India will hold the dubious distinction of being numero uno where cyber crime is concerned.

Today, the internet users are spread across all age groups. Social media sites are playing with the mindsets of the individuals and are rooted so deep that the youngsters are increasingly loosing interest with the outside world. Their virtual lives has given a huge rise to virtual crimes which in most cases go unsolved thanks to victims preferring to stay mum against their perpetrators who are hidden behind camouflaged facades.

How do these perpetrators conduct these crimes online? In most cases, the victims themselves are to be blamed for what happens to them. Be it the case of phishing or a Nigerian scam or your banking passwords being misused or online harassment to the point of kidnapping and killing, internet plays a key role. Victims unknowingly disburse key information about their personal lives which is misused by these perpetrators and the rest is history. MMS scandals, morphed pictures, kidnapping and killing of young teen Adnan Patrawala at the hands of his online friends, young girls being lured by their so called online friends and a lot of other crimes that’s happened over the last few years has been because of the nonchalant approach of the intended victims when they are online.

Elders need to take safety measures when they share their personal information online. Verify thoroughly the background of the emails they receive before sharing personal information. Even kids need to take precaution before going out to meet total strangers they have befriended online. One might never know who will become the next Adnan Patrawala. Parents of these kids who spend a lot of time in the online world, needs to monitor their children’s online activities least they go beyond the call of help. Social media sites and chatrooms are safe as long as the kids keep in mind what’s been taught to them from childhood, ‘not to talk to strangers.’ And finally, there should be limit to internet access for these kids.

Lately, thanks to social media, revolutions have uprooted corrupt governments across the world. In India, social media had been largely instrumental in helping crusader Anna Hazare to reach out to the masses across the length and breadth of the country with regards to the Jan Lokpal Bill. But then too much of anything is bad for health and internet is no different. We make friends online, we meet new people, we do our daily transactions and buy stuff online thanks to internet but if India’s 5th position on the cyber crime scene is anything to go by then we are definitely standing on a ticking time bomb that will put us a notch higher in that ambiguous distinction in the world. It’s better to be safe then sorry and now is the time to act up and take control of your virtual life. Be wise and think twice before sharing your personal life within the online world.