Mobile phones in schools have become the scourge of the classroom and many teachers, like myself, shuddered when they heard the on-going debate on whether students in the country should be allowed to keep phones at school. The phones are being used, as some would have us believe, in any pedagogical way; rather they are used by students to gossip with each other, interrupting lessons, making and receiving calls, texting, and filming each other and members of staff behind their back.
Some parents feel an extra sense of security when their children have their phones on the way to and from school. But when these phones are carried inside the school, parents need to realise that phones can actually place their children in danger.
Cell phones with huge memory capacity are now the in-thing. Students are now used to download music directly on their phones and spend hours listening to music and watching videos instead of doing their academic work, which is supposed to be their priority.
Mobile phones have become status symbols. A mobile phone is expensive to secondary school students who have little or no sources of income. Some students end up buying phones with their school fees. A cell phone has to be recharged with additional airtime to make calls, send text messages, browse and download some files.
All these things require money, money that should be used for academic pursuits and/or other essentials. The cost of repairing and replacing damaged/lost ones are not left out, because, the fact remains that once a student has started using a phone, it must be repaired or replaced when damaged or lost.
Much has been written in recent years about sexual addiction, an ailment that normally begins with the compulsive consumption of mainstream porn that frequently spins off into violent and degrading fare featuring the intentional humiliation and debasement of women.
Many believe that these images have no problem but as the viewer becomes desensitised to standard issue sexual content it takes stronger and stronger stuff to produce the same psychic effect. And it all begins with Internet porn. Back in the day, the natural curiosity of adolescent teenagers was sporadically ignited. It has to be searched for. Today, with the advent of cell phones with Internet access teenagers can easily download hard-core porn on a daily basis.
Once a child (student) starts using a mobile phone, they give their number to different people who will then call them. Naturally, for children who cannot speak to their mates face-to-face because of shyness, using mobile phone becomes a good medium to express their feelings.
Mobile phones have become a signal of sorts, including suggestions that a teenager is ‘ripe’ for a sexual relationship. Most of these students’ calls and messages are all about “I love you, crazy about you, miss you”.
This takes over the teenagers life; they spend sleepless nights thinking about their ‘love interest’ instead of focusing on what is important.
The constant use of text messages by secondary school students has contributed to the poor usage of proper English. The performance of secondary school students in English has of late extremely deteriorated due to mobile phones.
From a scientific point of view, some studies have found an association between cell phone use and certain kinds of brain and salivary gland tumours. Lennart Hardell and others, authored a 2009 meta-analysis of eleven studies from peer-reviewed journals, concluded that cell phone usage for at least ten years approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
In a nutshell, cautionary voices have pointed to the apparent dangers that mobile phones pose for young people in the form of deviant and immoral activities. Such activities have ignited moral panics among teachers and parents in many places around the world. It would be quite amazing to disregard the risks that mobile media can pose for youths in certain circumstances. Mobile phones can present risks for youths in particular contexts and milieus if not well handed.
Prof Eugene Ndabaga, is a lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s College of Education