By Alkasim Harisu
Thanks to the rapid growth of technology, the world witnesses an absolute change. Technology has afforded the world a one-in-a-million chance to communicate with people all around the globe. Distance, inarguably, can no longer hinder communication. The world, as Marshall McLuhan posits, has been reduced to a global village. Thus, the emergence of cellular phones has, doubtless, permitted people access to all parts of the world.
Lump it or not, the phone, the above notwithstanding, is a curse in disguise. That is why it is described as a blessworthy and curseworthy thing, occupying the minds of the youth. The sudden spread of the phone has necessitated the proliferation of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. What a breakthrough!
Those virtual platforms have become a commonplace occurrence. Everyone has their favourite social media handle and may be addicted to it or them. Some people own more than one handle. Honestly, chilling and relaxing constitute one of the biggest whys people can’t be less addicted to SM. This answers the question of the use or purpose of motivating the youth to join SM.
Day in, day out, people feel duty-bound to Facebook one another. On running out of data, many of us feel like nothing on earth. Some look like death warmed over. We toil to buy data to watch trivialities. Still, SM is, undoubtedly, a tool for knowledge. The Internet is today the most significant school, the most extensive library and the most learned and experienced teacher. There is virtual, nothing one can’t access, learn, or do on the Internet.
The SM platforms make athenaeums where everyone sells their ideas to the world. The political moguls, being attention-cravers, exploit the medium to attain a considerable following. The baddies, like the wind, sell and buy sex on the platforms. Evil-minded people, so also all forms of vulgarities, avail themselves of the opportunity to win popularity. As smartphones overshadow all other forms of phones, phonephilia among the youth rapidly thickens.
The level our youth are addicted to phones defies any stress, no matter how obvious. Many youths can’t help surf the net or go online when ailing. I hope this addiction will not accompany them to old age. Instagramming to see ladies’ pictures is a notable reason some of us buy phones. As a result, when our phones do not tweet, Facebook or WhatsApp well, we, without a second thought, look for money to buy better phones. We can do all sorts of jobs to get enough to buy the phones.
Addiction to phones is continuously gaining momentum. I once got my phone faulty. At the moment, the coronavirus pandemic was hitting India hard. I felt an excruciating pain piercing my heart. I could not sleep the night without a phone. As a result, I borrowed a friend’s laptop to keep me company. It was a great difficulty for one to get out of the four walls of our university following the devastating, quick spread of the virus. Fortunately, there is a bank neighbouring it. Thus I used it to excuse my request to go out. Heading to the gatekeepers, I pretended to be going to the bank to correct a problem troubling my account. Instead, I hasted to a market at a nearby place called Gangrar. Having my phone fixed, I intended a return to school. My return, unluckily, exposed me. Personnel keeping the gate saw me coming toward the school. My pleading a lot softened his heart. Thus, he forgave me. Had he not pardoned me, I would have received a two-week quarantine.
It is a prodigious task for us to part ways with phones. It is a great difficulty, if not a sheer impossibility, to afford to remove ourselves from phones for two days, or even one, at the very least. I am at a loss for words to think of how to divorce our lives from these gadgets. Our addiction to phones has significantly deprived us of our immature reading culture. Students, nowadays, prefer watching videos on SM to reading. Our books gather dust because they don’t receive reading or talk of good care. Many of us hate to read even short write-ups on SM.
We, moreover, habitually don’t recite going-to-bed and waking-up prayers. It astounds me to see people, upon completing prayers, bring out their phones. They don’t care to say the rosary, not to talk of praying to Allah for guidance. About this, I have firsthand knowledge. Phones enjoy the youth market. The market, or proportion of the phone-buying youth, is overwhelming. Our societies now swarm with mollycoddles whose parents buy them sophisticated phones—consequently, the number of young people who abuse the phone trebles.
The setbacks social media bring to us are too many to mention and discuss. We, nevertheless, can monitor it. In this connection, I recommend the following:
1. Parents should exercise their duty more carefully. They should not buy their children phones at tender ages. They should also know that proper parenthood does not mean buying their children their wants. Because coddling children is tantamount to spoiling them rotten.
2. The government should also exercise all the options at its disposal to rid children of phone addiction. For instance, it can recruit good teachers in schools, legislate the age of phone possession and ban less important and vulgar SM handles.
3. Schools should frequently organise debates and quizzes to allow students to exercise their brains. They should also ban the usage of phones in a class by teachers.
4. society should go to great lengths to watch how youngsters use phones and combat phone abuse by either seizing or reporting the concerned kids to their parents/guardians. More so, society should preach ethics and patience to the youth.
In conclusion, the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Hence, we must do our best to police their phone usage. We must be extra vigilant about the friends they make at school and at home. Today, one can almost access all sorts of knowledge on social media. Instead of spending our data and time on trivial things, why shouldn’t we watch educative videos on YouTube or subscribe to other well-meaning pages on SM? Because, as a matter of fact, the Internet, believe it or not, is the largest school this epoch has seen.
Alkasim Hariru wrote from Kano. He can be reached via email@example.com.