2 May 2013

The Smartphone and Mobile Internet: Friend or Foe for the Nigerian Youth

       The calamity therein is not in never reaching the stars but in having no stars to reach
                                                                  -Martin Luther King Jr.

In recent years we have seen a quantum leap in the caliber, usage and functions of mobile phones and electronic devices. From around the time GSMs came to Nigeria in about 2003 or thereabouts, the usage of and demand for such devices has been very great. In 2003, we saw the "green light" phones, Nokia 3310 and the likes; from around 2004/2005, we saw the "fluorescent light" phones in the likes of Nokia 2100 and the Bird phones; at around 2006/2007, we saw the "color screen" and "camera" phones in the likes of Nokia 3500, Sony Ericsson K700s and 750s and the likes; and finally at around 2008/2009 the first smartphones were being used remotely in Nigeria in the likes of Blackberry Tour and Javelin and
Curve 8900 commonly called Curve II.

The internet was licensed for commercial use in 1998 and has since grown very rapidly into a basic tool for this generation. The usage of mobile internet also grew at around the time when camera phones came into play as the users of such devices had a demand for entertainment and information and the mobile internet was the best source. The usage of so many electronic devices prompted the creation and use of the IPV6 addresses instead of the IPV4 which are almost exhausted (IPV4 and IPV6 are "Internet Proxy Version" 4 and 6 respectively"). The IPV6 addresses number about 3400000000000000000000000000000000000000 (Sorry I can't pronounce that number) and are already in use in some Windows devices.

The creation of the internet coupled with smartphones in my opinion is the greatest innovation of our time. It has brought information, entertainment, education and so many great things to our fingertips. It has aided our jobs, education and communication; it has revolutionized the media and created a lot of relationships which have resulted in beautiful marriages and working relationships. However, they say that with every advantage comes a disadvantage and in the case of Smartphones and the mobile internet, some factions may argue that that the disadvantages far outnumber the advantages amongst our Nigerian youths.

Smartphones have brought the bad habit of misspelling words to a lot of youths. Some youths fail to push the mental switch between chatting and actual writing before they enter into classrooms or examination halls or job interviews! And trust me, it is very annoying to read such texts where at one moment and is "and" and at another "n" or "en".

Smartphones have also brought the bad habit of carrying the phone as an extension of the body. When a youth wants to bathe, he takes his phone to the bathroom with him; when he wants to use the john his phone also follows him; in churches they are on their phones tweeting and updating statuses as "Pastor don gbagaun oh"; when they are in classrooms their phones are with them, causing distractions and constituting nuisance to others who want to learn, that is those who still go to classes in the first place; the use of smartphones and the chatting has so engrossed some youths that they hardly attend lectures and classes so as to talk to their online "friends"; even on the road, they are with their phones, chatting and listening to music with their ears plugged causing road mishaps and then blaming it on the devil; when they go to bed, their phones are either at their head or under their pillow and it is the first thing they check when they wake up.

A number of people have been duped by internet fraudsters on the mobile internet networking sites, these fraudsters commonly called "working boys", "yahoo boys", "G-boys" or "Americana boys" prey on the innocent users of such sites and leave them devastated. Not to mention that a number of our youths are the fraudsters themselves!

Smartphones again have brought the dirty habit of pornography to the pockets of some youths; where a few clicks would get a prospective user a complete flick. The usage of these being so addictive that some users actually skip classes or work to watch 'porn' and "beat the meat".

Recently, I read about a lady on facebook who fell victim to a sexual predator as a result of a gift she got on her 24th birthday: A BlackBerry. The said lady was "swept off her feet" by a charming young man who used her to fulfill his selfish desires and left her mutilated and undesirable. The story of Cynthia is still at the back of our minds; Cynthia was a young lady who got murdered when she went to meet up with one of her online "friends".

These are not all the bad habits and evils I have observed in youths from the usage of smartphones and the mobile internet but just a brief summary. With all these, can one say the smartphone and mobile internet are friends to our youths? Chill, the article is not yet finished. The advantages of smartphones and the mobile internet are endless but I will enumerate a few.

Smartphones greatly reduce the cost of communication! This is very true, the use of push email and social networking sites delivers information to millions of users in seconds! Smartphones and the mobile internet connect potential buyers and sellers and have become a platform for interaction between students of various institutions across the entire world! They have brought into contact job seekers and employers and a lot of lives have been blessed through these (I met the person paying for this article on the mobile internet!); sites as jobberman.com and roborebe.com have greatly reduced the stress involved in applying for jobs and so many graduates and students have benefited positively from such websites.

Smartphones and the mobile internet have efficiently brought the workspace to the pocket in the sense that most smartphones come with applications that can type documents, create spreadsheets and presentations, plot graphs, and do so many other things (This article is being typed on my Blackberry 9850 smartphone) that a computer can do. This has reduced the cost involved in publicity and related fields, it has transformed the phone from a liability into an asset and has made the ease of access so simple that even a five year old could use it to a certain degree!

The usage of smartphones and social networking sites on the web and mobile internet have led to a good number of marriages and engagements as well as built relationships between youths across different nations and ethnic backgrounds and have inspired a number of youths to greatness. Smartphones and mobile internet have revolutionized communication and media outreach and have greatly enhanced the spread of information among youths.

Would one after all these advantages say then that smartphones and the mobile internet are foes rather than friends? The answer in my opinion lies with the user. If you give a loaded gun to an idiot to kill a bird, no matter how long it takes, he will surely find a way to shoot himself whether he kills the bird or not.

Smartphones and mobile internet belong to those who have use for it and not those who would only abuse it. My advice to parents, friends and guardians would be to get smartphones and internet enabled devices only for those who are mature enough to use them; maturity is not a function of age but a function of mentality.

As for me, I love my BlackBerry and it has really been an asset to me as it is putting money in my pocket *big grin*

Until next time, Nigerians

Ezim Osai 

1 comment:

  1. hmm this is smartphone age you have to up to date and gadgets helps us to make our lives more easier if you have any problem you can visit this smartphone resource site hope it help you and other community memebers