By Mukhtar Garba Kobi
Communication is one of the fundamental means people command, caution and interact with one another. It is as old as human beings because the first created beings (Adam and Eve) communicated. Primitive generations used so many ways in sending signals or messages to other people. They include beating metal gongs, lighting fires on hills, blowing flutes, beating local drums, firing Dane-guns, intense ululations, especially during marriage ceremonies, etc. Moreover, communication passed through generations. More advanced platforms and channels are created to enable people to interact with fellows in far and near places with ease from their comfort zones.
Every day, sophisticated communication gadgets are invented and taken to markets. The more advanced features are added to social media platforms, the easier messages and information are conveyed to target audiences. According to Global Digital Overview, Facebook has 2.910 billion users, Instagram has 1.478 billion, Twitter has 436 million, TikTok has 1 billion, and WhatsApp has 2 billion active users.
With smartphones and data, people interact live through video calls, share pictures, upload movable images and audio messages, and get instant replies. Yet, despite these developments, youths in Africa and other parts of the world are so addicted to social media that some could not spend 30 minutes without logging in instead of studying for a better future, assisting parents with chores, learning skills to be independents, etc.
Regrettably, some users enjoy chatting in darkness by offing light, not knowing the brightness from phones screens harm their eyes. An eye doctor working with Makka Specialist Hospital in Bauchi, Abba Salisu Abba, explained that the pupil constricts when the light is more than what eyes can accommodate. But when the light is too low or in the darkness, the pupil dilates to search for available light. He further revealed that frequent staring at a light could result in itchy, watery, reddishness of eyes and, if nothing is done, could lead to blindness.
Some parents purchase phones, laptops, and tablets primarily to aid studies of their wards without regular supervision; it is unknown to them that most of their wards use such devices for irrelevant chatting or streaming pornographic content in late hours.
These days, young ladies in recent years shamelessly upload videos of them on TikTok dancing seductively in half-naked dressings; the act pushes some youths to rape teens, work sexually for sugar mummies or pay to satisfy themselves in brothels. Unfortunately, hours spent interacting with friends on social media platforms by students are high compared to the short time given for their studies or research; that has contributed hugely to mass failure during exams. A student from the State Polytechnic even told me that he often sacrifices his meal money to buy data primarily for chatting with friends. Sadly, many lost their lives after applying for jobs advertised on social media. They were pushed to early graves by their employers in unspecified locations.
Shallow-minded adults and teenagers who heavily use social media platforms tend to believe whatever they come across and easily influence peers, thereby influencing them to snatch phones, kidnappings, or do other criminal acts to possess what celebrities have been bombarding them with on social media platforms. Consequently, most people in Nigeria believe that building crime-free societies is a collective responsibility, but only a few contribute in that direction. Parents no longer check the kind of postings, comments, pictures being uploaded or whatever their children are doing on social media platforms but are good at condemning others.
In summary, it is sacrosanct upon parents to be acting as watchdogs over the activities of their teenage sons and daughters on social media platforms. Parents should be collecting their devices and keeping them from them for days to know the messages coming in or people they are interacting with; this would help them determine the best decision.
Social media laws should work on all and sundry irrespective of positions, backgrounds or influences. The law should provide punishment for users sharing violent content, abuse, or false accusation to innocent individuals or groups to serve as a lesson to others. Furthermore, posting educational content on social media should be encouraged and youths doing that need to be rewarded by authorities; doing so would significantly improve students’ academic performances, thereby leading to good results.
Mukhtar Garba Kobi Wrote from Bauchi State.