Gadgets Here With Us

Gadgets Here With Us

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I have fond memories of the first phone in my village. It was my dad’s. A brick-like phone that weighed like a well-fed baby elephant that when it accidentally, slipped out of your hands, it would hit and shatter all your phalanges. It was a tourist attraction, somewhat. Old people would gawk at it and crane their necks. Toddlers would wail to touch it. Cows would moo at the sight of it. The year is now circa 2015 and all that sounds like a mythical tale. Everything has changed. The old-fashioned home land lines with a bulky handset have since vanished off the face of the earth and been replaced by mobile phones. Every household has a phone or two. Or three. Or more. It is normal. Smartphones are upon us. And the earlier we learn to deal with it, the better. But what is making the parents have nights void of sleep is that the kids have access to phones, too. Look around. Little strapping kids are busy swiping, with their little fingers, on smartphones and giggling away. The teenage girls sleep with their phones close to their chest waiting for a WhatsApp message to ping. The teenage boys spend sleepless nights chatting on Viber and WeChat discussing (wait for this) their girl-crush, or Manchester United, or something odd.
In the article posted on CNN website about the best advice given to parents about their children’s addiction to mobile phones, writer Kelly Wallace says, “Parents who are concerned with their kids’ dependence on digital devices should first embrace the technology and not punish them with it.”
This is generation X that moves with the train to modernisation city. And this generation has embraced mobile phones to look hip and cool. Looking hip and stylish and up to speed with trends is what today’s kids would kill for. And parents are oblivious of that. If the parents take a chill pill, a seat and a mug of water and accept that these kids own mobile phones, they would have, thus, saved themselves heartaches and ailments that come with stress and paranoia.
Renowned social critic, Frank Gashumba, says, “It is about telling the kids that mobile phones are like a lake: you can go there and catch different fish. I don’t support parents who say that phones are bad. From day one, children should have smartphones.”
Gashumba goes ahead and gives an example of his daughter, Sheila Gashumba, who has elevated her social status and made a name for herself through the smartphone. “For example, my daughter, Sheila, uses her phone to do business online. She signs deals every day, through her phone. Even though her friends choose to use the phones differently. However, as parents, we shouldn’t allow the kids to go with phones to school. We should regulate them. But we should always tell them that they can use the phones to be billionaires, like what Sheila is doing.”
Rola Birungi, a TV presenter, says that she got her first phone when she was 16, but she has had a bad experience with them. “They are time-consuming. You end up not doing what you want to do because you are busy chatting on WhatsApp. Plus, we spend a lot of money buying data to use different applications. However, it eases communication,” she says.
However, every good thing has negativity as its silhouette. These kids, when left to their liberties, can use these smartphones into doing unethical and dubious things. “As a parent, I never give my children phones. For what? In this era of internet, I don’t want to walk into their room and find them watching pornography,” says, Amon Mateeka, a parent.
Should parents wire CCTV cameras in the house to monitor their children’s phone usage like a military facility? If it is cheap, well, they can do it, but for how long will they manage to keep tabs on these kids? “I would give my child a phone, but not a smartphone. If it has no data on it, then it is harmless. Unless it has internet data. I can give him/her a simple phone for strictly communication,” Brenda Beyanga, a parent, says.
A phone without data is like a dysfunctional toy. Yes, ask these self-styled ‘dot-com’ kids. If it has no Internet data, she will throw it in her bag and fold her arms across her chest in boredom. But then again, should the parents cut the kids’ financial supply in order to stop them from buying Internet data? Global tech icon Steve Jobs (RIP) was once quoted by The New York Times about whether his kids bathe in the glow of iPhones, tablets and smartphones, whether his house is like a nerd’s paradise. The fallen tech guru said, “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.” A parent refusing his kids to access phones is akin to subconsciously refusing to cough even when your throat is burning with cough. You will eventually cough. Loudly.
“A parent shouldn’t refuse their kids to access mobile phones. If you do so, you are wrong because these kids will go ahead and look for smartphones and do whatever they want to do with them,” says.
Technology is here. And parents should pick a number and join the queue. Accept that these kids have phones and learn, albeit hard, to deal with it.

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