By: Zayana Isa
A smartphone is indeed no longer a requirement in our lives; it has becoming a need instead. Statistics by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission in 2017 stated that smartphone users contribute 89.4% of the device used by Internet users to access the Internet where smartphones remain the most popular means for users to access Internet. According to the statistics, 89.3% of Internet users visiting social networking sites to socialize and build up networking. By looking at our society nowadays, the above statement is undeniable anymore. Scenarios such as bosses give an order or work instructions on the phone, a teacher leave homework messages through Whatsapp group for students to finish their homework at home and a husband simply a message to his wife upon meals for the dinner are closest example that we can relate on how people nowadays occupied themselves with smartphones all the time.
In other cases, have we ever encountered in a restaurant where a group of youngsters are having their dinner, yet everyone is enjoying their “meals” with the smartphones? These scenarios are no longer unusual situation to be seen. However, there’s something more serious that we need to ponder and look into. Since the social media has taken place more than it supposed to be, the content of what users post in it might be abused by some people. The emergence of new media, especially the social media has taken the world of communication to other dimensions. Users are mostly occupied with their online social network and socializing among themselves virtually.
Research by Sirianni & Vishwanath (2012) suggested that online users now are becoming sexually self-produced materials which also known as sexually explicit user-generated content (SEUGC). SEUGC is defined as non-professional photos, videos or written messages (e-mail, instant messages, blogs, mobile phone text messages) that are created by individuals planning, soliciting or actually engaging in sexual activities for non-profit purposes.
In addition, some scholars have observed that the prevalence of sexual self-presentations on social media seems to reflect the prevalence of sexual messages in mass media content popular among adolescents (Vandenbosch et al, 2015). Literally, the content of social media that is controlled by the users itself became an explicit content as we can see many photos or videos posted in social media (Instagram and YouTube).
By looking at Social Cognitive Theory, Bandura (1978) explains that behavioral, personal and environmental factors influence people’s thoughts and behaviors simultaneously in a reciprocal fashion. Behavior is contingent on expected outcomes which represent what individuals might expect to achieve from performing a specific behavior and serve as motivators that guide people’s behavior (Sirianni & Vishwanath, 2012). The online users are actually been influenced by the social media society where there are users who posted their nude photos shamelessly and those who are seeing it repeatedly may be influenced by the behavioral and doing the same things. In Malaysia context, this is totally against what we practice in our culture and beliefs.
Bandura (2008) also finds that behavioral, cognitive and affective learning can be achieved not only direct experience but also vicariously by observing the actions of others and the outcomes that they engender. The online users find any post on nudity or sexual explicit may not be harmful as they’ve seen on the Internet and as a result, their actions of posting such photos or videos is harmless and they think they have the rights of doing so.
However, the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum (CMCF) has already provided the Content Code that we should abide. Under the Guideline on Content; Indecent Content states that materials which are offensive, morally improper and against current standards of accepted behavior including nudity and sex and Obscene Content are prohibited. Many users may not aware of this Content Code and they might be offended by any actions of such prohibited content.
Overall, the recent studies by scholars show that mainstream mass media content have the potential to stimulate adolescents to produce and distribute their own sexual self-portrayals (Vandebosch et al.,2015). As far as the SCT is concerned, the online users are influenced by the behavior they adapt through the social media society.