YOUR CHILD, MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIAL MEDIA, BY AIRTEL’S EMEKA OPARAH
This intervention was inspired by a post I saw early this morning by a friend lamenting the lewd lyrics his kids sing and the dangerous verses they recite ostensibly due to “overexposure” to the ubiquitous mobile devices and social media.
These otherwise wonderful tools can actually lead our kids (and even ourselves) to addiction, distraction and eventual destruction. I have had cause to caution one or two friends over the unfettered access they give to their kids to mobile devices. Perhaps, it was in pursuit of a particular social status to keep up with the Joneses that drove them and their kid on that perfidious path.
As a matter of fact, one of them had the shock of his life when, after a long-drawn out war, he managed to extract his son’s device password from him. First, on my advice, he gave his son his BBM PIN to add him and after over a week of waiting, while the chap apparently cleaned up his shit, he was still embarrassed by the “quality and quantity” of half-clad gals that graced his DP and the number of F words that made his PM.
Scared shitless, he moved to gain access to the phone and ran into a brick wall, which ignited a conflagration that almost consumed his home. Apparently, his wife knew all along what the boy was up to but was too scared to mention it to the dad. She resorted to talking to the boy privately and going for night vigils so God will make him change. Rubbish! Anyways, they sha managed the crisis and for sure their life won’t be the same again. Meanwhile, their son is so weak academically that they are wondering how to “help” him go to university.
See, there’s so much power in the devices we bear. Literally everything good and bad is available online. Your child can actually learn how to kill, how to make a bomb, how to become a terrorist, how to drive a car, how to fly a plane, how to cook, and how to die, among others, online. So, why would you want to grant him unhindered access when you can help it?
PG actually means Parental Guidance. Aside guiding them through technology, by installing some softwares to monitor their activities or giving them basic phones without Internet access, you can (and should) spend time to review their online activities. There’s a cheap software you can install in your child’s phone (or your girlfriend’s phone, as the case may be) which automatically notifies you of his or her every activities including calls, text messages, photos and videos and actually sends you a copy.
Question is, at what age should you give your child a phone? In Nigeria, I know, everything is status symbol and people own things they don’t really need. So, when must you give your child a phone or tablet and what programs and apps and liberties come with such devices? This is an important question. Because I’ve heard some parents say stuff like “we have to monitor our kids and their nannies and drivers”, but then again, what are the risks? A bad nanny or driver can actually help corrupt your child using the same tools meant to protect him or her. And who says they can’t dispossess the children of their phones or whatever before kidnapping them?
Investing in the moral upbringing of your children is extremely crucial. As they say, if you take care of the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves. If a child is given a sound moral background, he or she will survive in the dangerous cyber world we all live in today, with all its imperfections.
Ask your children questions and ask more questions and ask more and more questions. More importantly, think twice or more before you give them a birthday gift that will lead them to destruction. Even grown women have been lured from social media to hotels and robbed, raped and, sometimes, killed. In the case of children, you’ll never really know what damage has been done until the grades start falling and behavior starts changing and by then, it might be too late.
Remember, if you fetch ant-infested firewood, lizards will come to party in your house.
Yes, we can actually discuss this. It’s not always about Buhari and the other guy, Jonathan. Good day.
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