NO DOUBT times are changing faster than we can keep pace with and before we realize it we may just be decades behind our own children. For example, most children spend more time watching TV than their parents do and can hop from one channel to the other very craftily. Social media platforms have exposed children to a wider world than we were at the same age. Their circle of peers and friends is much wider than the friends we have. The older one gets, perhaps, the fewer friends we have. Uncle google can teach children more than what parents can.
Today children have more choices than we had at the same age. Dressing, fashions and trends, access to movies and literature are just a button press away. Times have changed very fast. Today children are completing school at an early age than we used to.
Smartphones have become so affordable that even children can get them cheaply. However, there’s a lurking danger in the way young people use smart phones and their access to social media today.
As parents we have a tough time raising children because of these fast changing times. While phones can be abused by children, there’s a lot these gadgets can help young ones. Almost everything now is phone based. Children can use phones to study, do research, business and anything else one can think of.
Some of the dangers brought about by changes in technology and ICT vis-a-vis social media, are:
Pornography: Pornography has been linked to mental disorders in some cases and if left unchecked the condition may lead to long term negative consequences. Poor concentration in school, compulsive eating disorders can be attributed to pornography.
Links to harmful sites: Some internet sites lead to places that are a danger to users. Many of our young people are without jobs and temptations to be recruited by unscrupulous individuals are not uncommon. Cults, religious fanatics, Satanists and other bogus characters are busy promoting their clandestine activities using social media.
Easy communications with people of negative influence: Social media is a perfect tool for young people to link and communicate with any person anywhere in the world. Some of the people they can link up with may have totally different values from what you hold dear as a family.
Child traffickers also use familiarity on social media to carry on their illicit trade.
Fake promos: Social media has many fake promotions that attract young people to lure them to bait or invest money in some bogus businesses or some fake deals.
Social media is an easy platform for anyone to dump any filth that could corrupt morals. And some individuals are easily sponsored to do or say anything for a small pay.
As though this was not already ache-some, we have the gays and lesbian knocking on our doors. In the name of human rights. These have umbrella groups such as LBGTQ+ (Lesbians, bisexual, gays and transgender, queer, etc). These are different groups of people who advocate for alternative sexual orientation. Lesbians are females who are attracted to females, gays are men attracted to men. Trans-genders are those who change from male to female or vice versa. And that’s not all, because we have a whole lot of sexual orientations that could boggle your head. Let me be plain here and say that many of these practices are alien to Africa, but globalization and human rights movements are pushing for governments to allow these people to freely advocate their life styles.
Recently, we had an event in Lusaka that was promoting some of these practices. Soon after we witnessed some cases of sodomy and related vices. This is worrisome and we all need to be concerned.
Because many African countries are dependent on donor aid, which aid is tied to human rights, chances are that the Western world may continue to demand that we accept these LBGTQ groups. If not now, then when? Africa should lessen her dependence on foreign aid. Read this again.
WHAT EVERYONE CAN DO
Social media is here to stay and as such every one of us need to put in measures to let children use phones responsibly for education without abusing the gadgets. We can do this using any means possible. Some of these ways are to have a one on one talk with children on the miss-use of phones and the internet. Children and other young people need to be educated on the dangers of addiction to pornography and other social media platforms. Musicians, role models, the church and civil society groups need to join hands and safeguard our young people. Sometimes parents are tempted to deprive children of these gadgets in order to control abuse. But again that’s another extreme.
So what can we do? I think what is important is for us parents to develop a close relationship with children and teach them about the dangers of abusing technology. Let’s tell children that phones are good if used properly. Let them develop their gut instinct so that if they feel that something is wrong, then it certainly is wrong and they need to discontinue the action. Bad habits start slowly and worsen with time. Make them comfortable to approach you for any help or advice. Do not blame them for anything, instead let them admit their shortcomings and ask them what they are going to do about it. Watch their friends and the company they keep. Have them belong to a Christian community. Have regular bible studies at home. Insist they go to church and attend youth meetings. Introduce them to Christian literature. Pray with them. Pray for them. Fast for them. Sacrifice for them. Keep them active in other worthy pastime activities like games of sport, chase, monopoly and others games that challenge the mind. If the problems persist seek professional counsel. Remember talking and talking again and again is the way out. It’s all about Home and Family.
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