A survey of 500 school and college students of Indore has found that 64% of school and 80% of college students use WhatsApp but poor awareness exposes them to criminal liability.
The study found that even though 72% of school and 54% of college students are group administrators, often (30% in case of school and 43% in case of college students) they do not know all the members of the group.
“This is reckless behaviour as any wrong activity by any group member can be pinned on the group administrator too”, said additional director general of police (ADGP) Narcotics and Police Radio Training School (PRTS) Varun Kapoor .
The study , which has been published in Indian Police Journal of BPR&D and NPA Journal, found that around 25% use the application for four hours, which comes to a third of the productive time of the students per day.
The school students covered under the survey were from class 10 to 12.
Obscenity on WhatsApp is another danger zone. The study showed that 20% school and 29% college students admit to either viewing or posting obscene material on WhatsApp.
This is alarming because if a student is posting and transmitting obscene material (which may be photos, videos or even text) then he is committing a crime under section 67 and 67A of the IT Act, experts said. Further if he is viewing (in addition to posting or transmitting) obscene material concerning a child (a person below 18 years of age) then he/she is committing a crime under section 67B of the said act.
Prank or hoax posts on WhatsApp are another big challenge, experts said.
According to survey almost half of all school and college students admit to forwarding such posts without thinking or finding out the veracity of such posts. ADGP Kapoor says that at a time when 75% of school and college students possess smart phones and spend such long hours on social media sites, they should be sensitised about the legal aspects of the virtual world.