How does the Internet work on the youngsters’ views? To find it out, Vladimir Putin instructed the government to conduct regular research into the preferences of young Internet users. Why do the authorities want to keep an eye on netizens? Will the Russian government get a bearing on young minds through the Internet?
“Protest activity is now taking various shapes in Moscow, in Arkhangelsk region, in Rostov and other cities. And there is a great number of young participants,” says anthropologist Alexandra Arkhipova.
According to the Levada Center, the Internet has become the main source of information for two-thirds of Russians under the age of 25. Google has recently found out that they are primarily interested in social networks, videos, online games and online broadcasts. Young people subscribe to gamers, e-sports stars and vloggers. But just being aware of the youth’s interests is not enough; the president has set another task to the ministers, i.e. ‘to establish a coordination centre for the production of content aimed the at spiritual and moral development of the youth on the basis of a non-profit organization.
During the protests of 2017 and 2019, at which many students and schoolers showed up, the authorities made attempts to spread political content addressed to the young people on the Internet.
“For example, Alisa Vox and her song about ‘checking facts’, or Timati and Guf who call for ‘eating a burger in the salutation of Moscow Mayor Sobyanin’. But such things cannot cause anything but laughter, because they do not look natural, they look very strange and people see the lie,” says journalist Alexander Savelyev.
It is the teen public who is particularly sharply opposed to the dictate of the state, child psychologist Elena Morozova stresses.
“Adolescence is about attempts to separate from everyone, about the feeling of one’s freedom, independence and significance, it is sort of independent searching ‘Who am I?’, ‘What am I?’. Therefore, all artificial and forcible things will be a bad influence,” the expert believes.
Not only the teen spirit, but also technical difficulties can hinder the authorities in instilling morality and patriotism in young Internet users.
“One channel is not enough, one needs to hold sway on a huge number of microinfluencers. And one should not only influence them; if some fashion blogger ‘Vasya Petrov’ tells something to the audience of 13-year-olds, it will not be enough. They need everyone to repost Vasya Petrov. And this is an almost impossible,” says Alexandra Arkhipova.
We asked the residents of Moscow: ‘Should the state be involved in the moral education of young people?’, and got the following answers:
“I think they should, reasonable censorship is necessary!”
“Actually, moral education is up to the the family. It is the family that counts!”
“The state should always be on our front lines!”
“It should have impact on the the cultural level of our youth; currently, it only contributes to the growth of unreflected loyalty.”
The Russian government is expected to present a plan of the youth audience research and promoting moral standards on the Internet by December, 1.
Alyaksandr Papko/MS, belsat.eu