Social Media – Boon or Bane: A Case Study on Rural Youth


Dr. D. Maria Antony Raj1, Dr. Clayton Michael Fonceca2

1Principal, Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur – 635601

2Asst. Professor, P.G. & Research Department of Social Work, Sacred Heart College, Tirupattur – 635601

*Corresponding Author Email:



An individual’s life can now be viewed with a widespread representations of facts, tweets, comments, selfie’s, photographs, relationship status, likes, dislikes, moods, interests, mutual friends and status to name a few. The current study incorporates a qualitative approach in a rural college located in Tirupattur, Vellore District, Tamil Nadu - India. The Explanatory Case Study Design was adopted and five case studies were undertaken to study the implication of social networks on rural youth.  The studies undertaken clearly reveal that the youth in rural areas are no different form the youth in the cities who are victims of bane troubled by their status, tweets, comments, friends, memes, trolls and social media obsessions.


KEYWORDS: Boon, Bane





One of the great features of this era is the unprecedented rise of global cultures which are attributed to the revolution of the internet and the social media. In this digitalized era, social media/networking has become an imperative part of our lives. It has revolutionized the world around us.  It has become wide spread and is utilized by children, students, parents, businesses, political parties and organizations. The very society that we live is now being shaped by what we liked, commented, shared or tweeted.


An individual’s life can now be viewed with a widespread representations of facts, tweets, comments, selfie’s, photographs, relationship status, likes, dislikes, moods, interests, mutual friends and status to name a few. It has also influenced our human behavior.


One can have a hundred to a hundred thousand friends and followers and still suffer from isolation, identity crisis, social anxiety disorder, depression, insomnia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Sarah Fader, Social Media Obsession and Anxiety, 2018.



In understanding the context of this study, various articles pertaining to the influence of social media were streamlined. Leslie Haddon (2015), from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK high-lightened the fact that young children go online to understand issues and practices and, specifically, the sometimes changing circumstances in which they live their lives in the offline world but get caught within the frame of social evils within social media. In an article on the impact of Social Networking Sites on the youth, Khurana N (2015), stated that majority being 43% were the ones who had added 5 to 10 unknown people/strangers in their profiles and 26% were those who had added 10 and above unknown people in their profiles, presumably because the youth is attracted to expand their network by connecting with new people across the globe. Breaking the data down further, 26% still existed amongst those who had no unknown people added to their profiles for reasons preferably being non evasion of privacy and secrecy. Vidyashri C (2017)., in a study on the impact of social media on youth revealed that half of the respondents (52%) opined that social media has helped them to find new friends, while a vast majority (83%) of the respondents has stated that it has affected their study habits in a significant way. Having drawn inferences from a few studies, the present research seek to answers questions in a qualitative manner keeping in mind the grey areas in which the above studies need to be probed in.



·        To understand the proximity of usage of social networks by rural youth

·        To highlight the how their opinion in accepting strangers as friends

·        To study whether they have been victims of trools or online bulling and

·        To understand to what extent are their parents aware of their social network usage.



The current study incorporates a qualitative approach in a rural college located in Tirupattur of Vellore District, Tamil Nadu - India. The Explanatory Case Study Design was adopted and five case studies were undertaken with the aforesaid objectives in mind. Consent for the participation in the research was collected as some of the questions were personnel and in-depth.



Case Study Design:

The ‘Explanatory Case Study Method’ was adopted. It is a method used to explore the causation pertaining to the phenomena. In this case, it was used to understand the impact of the social media on the lives of rural youth.


Case Study Methodology:

To present the case studies a format described by Brian Budgell (2008) was used, which classified the scheme for the case study presentation into four:-

a)   Introduction - Describes the context of the case.

b) Case Presentation – Understanding the objectives of the research undertaken.

c)   Outcome - The reasons behind the occurrences of the phenomenon that was to be studied.

d) Discussion - Summarization of the presented case study.


Case Study 1


A case study with Ms. A revealed that she was 18 years old and hails from a middle class family. She uses her mobile to access the internet and spends as much as 4 to 6 hours a day on YouTube, Hotstar, Facebook and Whatsapp.

Case Presentation:

With the advent of free internet and data usage, she stated that she spends as much as 1.5GB to 2 GB on data daily. She also stated that she liked to always be in the center of attraction and loved getting likes on Facebook and this has made her to take a significant number of selfies every day. She admitted that she was once a victim of online bulling and trools. Having blocked such people has enabled her to move forward. She also stated that “I get as many as 4 to 5 friends request in a week”. When questioned about the usage of the mobile phone and social networks in front of her parents, she exclaimed to have not used it and majority of its usage has always been in the late hours at night.



The current case study revealed the significant use of mobile data and the application of online social media by the client. Seeking identity and recognition the client continues to takes a significant number of selfies every day to be in the spotlight.  She also stated that during her high school days, she was a class topper and now her grades have seen a steady decline.



On understanding the psychological aspects of Ms. A, it is evident from the research undertaken that she required psycho-social help. Anxiety, insomnia and recognition revolved around the clients’ day to day life. Lack of sleep, failure in achieving good grades and identity crisis have been the product of adverse usage of social networks.


Case Study 2


Mr. B, is a student pursuing his Masters in Social Sciences. He is a son of a daily laborer hailing from a lower middle class family. He is an average student in studies and has often felt isolated among his colleagues as he hails from a very rural background.


Case Presentation:

The parents of Mr. B, had recently bought him a mobile. Mr. B, exclaimed that “I felt greatly depressed and sad on my inability to own a mobile”. He was not recognized or wanted in his friends circle because he hadn’t a mobile phone. He felt isolated and he was not part of any Whatsapp group. He stated that he earlier used to pursue part-time jobs but now he does not since he is much engaged with his friend on social networks. He stated that he now has more than 500 friends in his account and nearly one-third of them being unknown.



The research also revealed that Mr. B, was a victim of memes because of his dressing and his background. He also stated that he was also bullied online in groups he was not part off leading to a negative body image. He also stated that his parent have no idea on his usage of his mobile phone or time spent on the social media. Mr. B. stated that he spent 6 to 8 hours a day on social networks. He spent most of his time on Youtube, Tinder, Whatsapp and Facebook. He had failed in two subject during the previous semester. He expressed his lack of interest in studies, inability to focus and concentrate having be dejected by his friends circle online.



From the presented case study it is evident that Mr.B, wanted to have friends. He strained himself in sorting after friendship with people who never accepted him for who he was.  Having a mobile phone with internet connectivity had led him in seeking friendship online with complete strangers. Being bullied on social media the client has suffered from depression and isolation. This study thus reveals the fact that virtual reality also has a significant impact in each of our lives if we think that finding solace and recognition would pay off the hard realities of the real world.


Case Study 3


In a case study with Ms.C., it was revealed that she was a final year undergraduate student hailing from a upper middle class family. Both the father and mother of Ms. C., were employed in a private sector and the only time they got to spend time with each other as a family was only during dinner and weekends.


Case Presentation:

The study with Ms. C revealed that, she loved watching serials and movies online. She spends an average of 3 to 4 hours online on Facebook and Whatsapp. She stated that advent of data bonus packs and free internet has been a blessing as she was able to catch up with various serials and reality shows online. She uses a minimum of 3 GB to 5 GB of data daily.


Ms. C. also stated that she has more than 700 friends on her social account. She stated that she does accepts friend request from unknown people as she always wanted to make new friends. The client stated that she had received many proposals from strangers and was also threatened online. She also exclaimed “I some time feel someone is following me whenever I leave the college”. When questioned about whether her parents or siblings knew about this it was revealed that she is was only child. On investigating on how much of the time she spent on the internet for academic purpose, she revealed that she only spent a few minutes on the same.



As a result of the unavailability of the parents of the client, she has sort out her loneliness in seeking friendship with strangers online. She also stated that she sometimes suffers from insomnia as depression leading to adverse unhealthy sleep patterns. She has also stated that she was many a times cyber bullied. This has also led to the client failing to secure sufficient pass grades in her academics due to the vicarious usage social networks.



It is thus evident from the presented case study the negligence of the parents and the ill aspects of the social networking sites. The internet can be used in many ways however the present generation have become victims of various ill influences that had created a sense of addiction in seeking recognition online. 


Case Study 4


In a case study with Mr. D, the following comments were high-lightened. Mr. D was from a middle class nuclear family. He had just completed his under-graduation and is currently pursuing his post-graduation. He had a delay in registering for his higher studies as he had a significant number of arrears to clear.


Case Presentation:

On understanding Mr. D’s usage of social networks it was revealed that he spends more than 5 to 6 hours a day. He also stated that he has used his smart phone during class hours too. He stated that he was addicted to the app called tinder, which enables him to chat with unknown users on the internet. He also stated that he spends most of his time chatting and watching movies.



The case study further revealed that pornographic content was also viewed by the client due to unforeseen advertisements on many social network platforms. The client stated the he has become addicted in watching pornographic content online. This has resulted in him having sleepless nights and failure to cope up with his studies. Sexual chats on the mobile application tinder has also been part of the clients’ day to day online life.



The parent of the client are not aware of his use of his mobile phone and its usage. They would often recharged his mobile with a minimum of Rs. 500/- to Rs 600/- per month depending on the data plan and tariff offered by various networks. The negligence of the parents, prolonged mobile usage and vicarious content on social network has taken a toll on his health and wellbeing.


Case Study 5


A case study with Ms. E revealed that she is a postgraduate and hails from an upper middle class family. She has an elder sister who was recently married. She considers herself as a pet child in the family. Her mother is a single parent and own a business. The research also revealed that Ms.E. has secured only a mere pass mark in all her subjects.


Case Presentation:

In the present case study with Ms.E. the client exclaimed “I am addicted to my smart phone and social network, I can’t keep myself from it even for 5 minutes without checking for updates”.  She further stated the fact that she was also warned by her teacher because she was caught for using her smart phone during class hours. She stated that she spends most of her time on twitter and loves following celebrities and their status updates. Ms. E also stated that she has a minimum of 8 Whatsapp groups and more than 400 plus friends in her social account. She stated that she loves to always be in the spotlight and loves to get recognition for her comments and statements leading to unrealistic expectations.



The case study revealed that Ms. E often felt rejected when she does not get sufficient likes and comments. She also shuns away food and does not sleep when she is not recognized. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is of a big concern for the client.


The study also revealed that her mother used to shout at her whenever she was found with the smartphone. This has caused her to use her phone late at nights even to the wake of the mornings and as a result she was often scolded by her teachers for sleeping in class.



It is evident from the presented case study that Ms. E. suffered from loneliness and lack of recognition. Her mother being a single parent was not able to spend time with her. This has led to the client seeking recognition and friendship online. The psychological impact of not eating for the want of sufficient ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ can also be viewed. Insomnia, anxiety and social network addiction is also evident here.    



Social media is often described as being more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol. With the worst social media apps being Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat when it comes to addiction (Anya Zhukova, 2018). From the presented case studies it is evident that the rural youth are also part of the harsh social networking evils prevailing today. The five case studies undertaken clearly reveal that the youth in rural areas are no different form the youth in the cities who are victims of bane troubled by their status, tweets, comments, friends, memes, trolls and social media obsessions.


All the case studies highlight the fact that an average of 4 hours is spent daily on social media. Unknown users are granted friendship without the benefit of the doubt of what evil may prevail behind such acceptance. More than 1 GB of data is spent daily on social networks and parents continue to be unaware of what is happening with their children. Insomnia, depression and identity crisis are also prevailing in this harsh reality.



1.     Haddon, L. (2015). Social Media and Youth. Retrieved from

2.     Halakerimath, V. C. (2017). A study on impact of social media on youth. Retrieved from International Journal of Current Research:

3.     N, K. (2015). The Impact of Social Networking Sites on the Youth. Retrieved from Journal of Mass Communication & Journalism:

4.     Yin, R. K. (2013). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (Applied Social Research Methods) Fifth Edition. SAGE Publications, Inc; Fifth edition (May 10, 2013).

5.     Zhukova, A. (2018, October 31). Retrieved from Seven Negative Effects of Social Network users:






Received on 23.11.2018       Modified on 18.12.2018

Accepted on 27.12.2018      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(1): 151-154.

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2019.00025.1