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Balancing cyber health, mental health

By ‘Mamohaila Rampo


In celebration and recognition of Cyber Security Month – October, Global Foundation for Cyber Studies Researcher Rethabile Tšephe organized a cyber-security awareness program to caution individuals about how cyberspace can impact mental health.

Depression by itself is an alarming factor as far as bullying is concerned, in her information, and cyberbullying will at most times lead a victim to a feeling of unworthiness.

Addressing the attendants, Tšephe said social media users feel overwhelmed by what goes around, “they are likely to take their lives given that depression is proving high among victims of cyberbullying”. She advised individuals to not be on social media for the wrong reasons and that they should not seek validation or acceptance on social media because the online space has people with good and bad intentions.

Among other issues discussed Tšephe notified individuals about the exploitation of personal information on the internet and the dangers that are related to cyberbullying. She said personal and financial information are currency for cybercriminals online. With an individual’s stolen identity, a cybercriminal may be able to access bank accounts or obtain credit cards or even take loans in other peoples’ names and potentially ruin credit rating. She said ultimately leaked information on the internet may lead to mental disorders.

“You need to be careful with how much personal information you reveal online. Sharing your address, phone number, birthday and other personal information can mean you are at a greater risk of identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you post on social media,” said the Researcher.

Mental Health and Technology: The case of Africa written by Tšephe states that online platforms can negatively affect mental well-being by promoting unrealistic expectations. It is believed that social media has been linked to poor self-esteem from viewing images that are often digitally altered on photo-sharing platforms. In particular, the ‘idealized body image’ presented on such platforms has been detrimental to self-image, especially among young girls.

The Researcher suggests that children should be supervised on the internet because excessive social media engagement can lead to mental disorders. She said now the 24th century allows young pupils to be on the internet for educational purposes.

She said it is important to separate personal life from social media because on social media everyone from around the globe can be a friend unlike in real-life interactions where people can choose whom they want around them.

“On social media, one can have 1000 friends but in real life majority of people have less than 10 friends. Cybercriminals can piece together your identity from information that is publicly available about you, so think it is wise to limit online information,” said Tšephe.