This week, Emmanuel Egobiambu exposes us to the the effects of phone addiction. Are you a writer and wish to be published? email your short stories, poems, opinion pieces, NYSC experience to [email protected] for a chance to be featured on our blog.
From dawn to dusk, it is their companion. It is the first thing they touch as the day opens its mouth, the last thing to bid goodbye as they close their eyes to sleep. Even while asleep, some still put on ear muffs, listening to songs, probably in their dreams. For others, they cannot walk on the highway without punching the buttons of this petite gadget. Their hands are always glued to it, like bees to nectars.
This is the course of the 21st century, one watered by the ever-increasing spate in the introduction of mobile phones. Phone addiction has become an ever-growing phenomenon globally. And as such, it is almost impossible for most youths to spend 30 minutes without being tempted to touch.
According to a research on smartphone addicts by Dr. David Greenfield, the director of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, USA, about 90% of Americans fall in the category of overusing, abusing or misusing their mobile phones while 61% of respondents said they often sleep with their smartphone turned on, under their pillow or next to their bed, and more than 50% feel unease when they leave their phone at home, in the car, or when they have no service on their phone.
Nowadays, it seems every young person is a phone addict. On the streets of Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Gombe, the story is not different. To the elderly, it is but an absurd story; one they did not see in their "time". A story not known to them seeing their children isolate themselves in their rooms, chatting away with friends (in their hundreds and thousands) who they barely know nor relate with aside the screens of their phones but sometimes relating with family members become an uphill task.
But for the young and trendy, it is but a necessary evil or how can they stay for a " whole" day, hour, or even a minute without checking their mail, chatting with friends on various social media, watching the latest season film, or playing their favorite songs. For all these, the mobile phone batteries become battered, they bear the brunt of powering messages from social media platforms surging through like water from a collapsed dam.
Determined to never allow their phones shut down, the barbing saloon, play station stores and any available place where there is power supply, become their new abodes.
Like a desert waiting for a drop of water, they pick up their "dead" phones, once it breathes life, power it on and zoom off to their favorite new media; often shuffling among these media. They hardly allow the electronic piece to have peace of mind. For these young minds, "na as e dey hot!", “no time to waste!”
For most part, the advent of smartphones has given birth to a new baby, citizen/participatory journalism. It is a new brand of wine that brews intoxication to those who fail to know their gauge. Often, instead of helping victims of accidents, taking pictures to "break the news", becomes paramount to them. The pictures are taken, uploaded on blogs, and social media with comments pouring in like rain, leaving the victims to writhe in pains, and maybe eventual death.
For the religious posture of many Nigerian youths, one may think that the smartphones would be smart enough to warn their users to slide them into wallets, handbags and pockets or rather put them off, as they enter "holy grounds". But my friend "they said I should tell you", many of them would say their gadgets have bible application and so it is not a good business shutting the smartphones down while in service.
But alas, a good chunk of them, unable to resist their itchy fingers, tap their phones, flipping between sites and shouting "amen", intermittently to the "Man of God's", calls. And of course, before the congregation shares "the Grace", hands are glued, punching buttons on their phones. That is the lot of the new generation.
None can successfully talk about youth addiction to phones without reference to students of higher institutions, at least not when they enter lecture theatres, clutching on to their phones like a baby holding his most treasured teddy bear. As lectures go on, they chat away, some under the guise of using search engines to aid comprehension of what the lecturer is dishing out.
Although the coming of more technologically savvy mobile phones have proved useful, especially in areas as promotion of discourse on blogs and social networks; and speedy dispensation of information, but the increasing level of addiction to them and the attendant harvest, leaves one to conclude, maybe hastily, that this is certainly a generation "tempted to touch!"
*Emmanuel Egobiambu is an NYSC member serving in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. [email protected]; 08067695932.