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Watch that gadget

•It could tear your family apart!

By Josephine Agbonkhese  & Chris Onuoha

THE influence of pop culture and technology has contributed, in no small measure, to the growing divide between parents and children. The advent of social media especially, appears to have worsened issues, with children constantly uncovering new ways- both positive and negative- of putting technology to use.

To a large extent, this has taken a toll on communication between parents and children, and affected relationships in many families.

Children are instantly messaging, constantly spending hours on social media, listening to music, surfing their favourite web sites, and watching television or movies. No thanks to the emergence of mobile technology, these practices are no longer limited to the home, but can now occur in cars, restaurants, and anywhere there is a mobile phone signal.

As Dr. Patrick Oloko, a lecturer in the Department of English, University of Lagos, puts it: “This  has reduced the amount of practical conversation that goes on within the family circle.”

Oloko who also emphasised that social media has adverse effects on students especially, and their performance in school, said: “Children no longer focus on their studies the way they would. Before, we used to complain about television, but now, you have the social media and all of other distracting things loaded in one gadget. Hence, many students can chat endlessly with their phone even in the classroom, while a lecture is going on. Notwithstanding that the gadget could help them access educative information that would be useful in the course of their study, but the overloaded internet sites seeking attention distract them from the real thing.”

According to him, watching television can be controlled especially when an uninteresting programme is being aired but with phone gadgets, a barrage of optional sites make quitting almost impossible.

“It is doing far more harm than the television and home video is doing. With television you can switch off, but with phone, there is no regulation. Everything is in your hand and the problem remains the lack of control. People who made these gadgets had fantastic intentions in mind. Their objectives have gone far and wide and because there are no regulations; one can continue to consume and consume information always. The point I am making is that the consumption of the information is so much that we are no longer making use of it properly as it should be.

“Other people might have a completely different opinion, but I am of the view that it has no regulations which has health implications. What I mean by regulation is that you can definitely decide to hook on to a site for 24 hours without interference from anybody if you wish. It keeps you awake all the time, not necessarily because you are engaged to it but because the amount of information demanding constant attention will not allow you to quit. For instance, the Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype and other social media platforms might get you engaged for a whole day. Social media message ringing tones might as well keep you on your toes. The moment you want to take a sleep, the message tones will not allow you do that. You no longer catch as much sleep as you wish,” ” Oloko added..

Some are, however, of a different opinion and one of such is Emmanuel Akapo, CEO, Tenstrings Music School in Lagos, who sees technology and social media as more of a blessing than a curse.

“For families that live apart, the social media is a strong tool of communication. When a husband is in Europe or US, the wife is in Nigeria and the children are all in schools, social media channels will definitely serve as a medium of communication through group chat on Skype, Whatsapp or Facebook.

Business networks

The father can record a voice or physical action and send via these platforms to all the family members in their various locations and that will keep the family union intact.

“Another thing is that the platform can help the parents keep track of who their children’s friends are and the kind of relationships they keep. Often times, when you follow them on their twitter account, you could monitor the kind of friends they associate with. It also helps to network and socialize easily especially for children who are very quiet, shy or timid in approach. Even for parents, social media fast-tracks business networks which ordinarily, telephones and physical contact may not be able to do,” Akapo said.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.