Digital literacy, education and awareness to combat the threat of social media

Tashi Dema

As social media revolutionizes the way we communicate, seek information and entertain ourselves, it is important to create digital literacy and awareness and educate the public.

A webinar held on June 7 titled “Impact of Social Media in Modern Bhutan” aimed to create a digital Bhutan that harmonizes all aspects of public service delivery and digitally empowers citizens.

Although the internet was only launched in 1999 in the country, it has penetrated almost every nook and cranny of the country, facilitating the use of social media.

A study conducted by the Bhutan Media Foundation in 2020 showed that 90% of Bhutanese are on social media, spending an average of 163 minutes per day.

Among the social media platforms, Facebook is the most used platform.

The study also revealed that most people use social media to seek information and be entertained. Many users, however, shared their negative social media experience with indecent posts.

Moderated by the Executive Director of Bhutan Media Foundation, Needrup Zangpo, the webinar discussed the benefit and scourge of social media, where it was pointed out that although social media has led to negative content, users anonymous stories, gossip, biased opinions and one-sided stories since the first democratic parliamentary elections in 2008, social media has benefited Bhutanese society.

A technology strategist and consultant, Tshering Cijay Dorji (PhD), said that social media helps promote democratic culture, gives every citizen the opportunity to have their voice heard and also brings about dialogues between the electorate and elected officials.

He cited the example of wise people, but without formal education, who use WeChat to discuss issues with their elected representatives.

He said, however, that it was important to educate the public on how to infer social media content and personally use social media responsibly.

Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Kesang Dema said they use social media to update people on important government decisions or developments, to share the Prime Minister’s thoughts on relevant topics, engage the public on important issues and explain to people why the government is doing what it is doing.

“The idea is to connect with as many people as possible in the shortest possible time and social media provides that kind of reach and coverage,” she said.

Kesang Dema said the government’s social media policy drawn up in 2016 sets a basic standard for the use of social media.

The CEO of Nyingnor, a company with a team of digital problem solvers, Phub Dorji, stressed the need for traditional media to provide relevant information by conducting research and giving proper context to social media content.

“The role of traditional media is still important and relevant in the age of social media,” he said. “The mainstream media cannot simply republish what government agencies publish. They can’t replicate what government agencies have put in, but have well-researched items.

Phub Dorji also highlighted the need for traditional media to keep pace with technological changes. “Traditional media have a role to play in tackling misinformation on social media.”

He said social media had many positive impacts on young Bhutanese as many learned digital skills online and helped many to stay engaged.

Organized by a German political foundation that promotes liberal values, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, panelists agreed that as we move forward as a community, society and nation, promoting positive content about social networks.

Meanwhile, German-Bhutanese Himalayan Society chairman Reinhard Wolf said social media helps people stay connected in the rugged terrain.

He said there is a need to have curricula in schools that teach children to use social media wisely and confront them with fake news so they are able to tell the difference between fake and real. new.

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