How addicted are you to your phone?

At this point in time, a good friend is one whose phone charger is compatible to yours. There is no greater distress than that little lightning shaped bolt that indicates low battery for most smart phone users.

At this point in time, a good friend is one whose phone charger is compatible to yours. There is no greater distress than that little lightning shaped bolt that indicates low battery for most smart phone users.

The joy of finding someone to aid you at such peril times either by letting you charge or lending you their charger may just create strong bonds of friendship.

For the younger generation, it is almost inconceivable to imagine that a few years ego, Cell phones were a symbol of status and belonged mainly to the elite. Even then, few owned smart phones. Today, the story needs retelling with a 78% Cell phone penetration rate.

According to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), The total number of active mobile telephone subscriptions(90-days revenue generating subscribers) in Rwanda increased from 8,769,606 at the end of February - 2016 to 8,807,170at the end of March-2016, thereby showing an increase of 0.4%. The post paid subscription increased from 78,729 at the end of February-2016 to 80,854 at the end of March- 2016, and the prepaid subscription also increased from 8,690,877 to 8,726,316 during the same period.

With the influx of social media, smart phones have most people hooked. They have several applications most prominent of which include WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

These applications have played a vital role in bringing the world to one’s finger tips.

Social media and phones have become tools through which people create, share, or exchange information, ideas, and career interests at a degree and speed unknown before. Pictures, videos and all sorts of information go viral at an astonishing rate.

Needless to say they have facilitated the ease in which people follow social, political and economic trends.

Philbert Nkusi, a nurse told Sunday Times that his smart phone is one of his most treasured tech devices.

“I read books, receive instant notifications and emails and stay on top of all my work obligations on my phone. Basically, my phone brings the world to me. I can follow trending hash tags to know what is going on around the world and not to mention the ease with which we now have access to our leaders through social media platforms like twitter,” he said.

Phones and social media like most things are two edged swords. The new joke on the Kigali streets is that you can invite a significant other to a date so you both stare at your phones for three hours.

Social media and phones have brought people far away closer and simultaneously pushed those who are close away.

Clare Umwali, a graduate emphasizes the need for families to have a tech free day to enjoy more human and warm conversations and relationships.

“It is not a strange sight these days to notice a family out together but they are all heavily engrossed in their phones. I completely treasure my smart phone and the opportunities that it presents me many, however we must not miss out on conversations and occurrences all around us while we chat our lives away,” she says.

Social as well as anti-social behaviors have been redefined by phone and social media era. It is not peculiar to find a normally introvert person very outspoken over social media. There is no limit with whom you can intact over the internet and this has succeeded better than most things to make the world a global village.

While this presents both positive and negative consequences, undoubtedly phones and social media have become a central part of digital communication in the 21st Century.

Lillian Uwase, a business lady is of the opinion that smart phone and social media platforms have been a huge blessing to both people’s personal and professional lives.

“Money transfers and payment of bills are a few of the things that this era of digital evolution have simplified. Look at all the local tech businesses that are thriving off these platforms like 250 taxi. My phone is a lifeline. It goes with me everywhere from bathroom to boardroom and I check it almost compulsively. My whole life from emails, gallery of sentimental pictures, planner and thoughts worded into my memo are all in my phone. So you would understand my reluctance to put it down,” she said.

Interestingly, the more people peruse through their phones or engage in social media platforms, the greater the urge to stay connected to the ever changing social, political and economic trends and norms becomes.

The degree at which smart phone and social media users guard their phones is nothing short of amusing. There are those who have 12 plus characters made of words and symbols for passwords. A Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram account will each have its own set of passwords. Even then none is safe from the infamous screenshot, on line ‘roasting’ or in extreme cases bullying.

Some couples will share the information of their salaries and assets but not the password to their phones. Majority of the people who spoke to Sunday Times said they felt locked out of civilization without access to their phones. However as today’s generation enjoys the best of phone tech, it is worth to throw in a bit of caution.

Regarding phones, there have been instances of severe injuries incurred by people who use non-approved and counterfeit version of leading label smart phones.

Be careful while choosing the right and original cell phones as this can be life saving because all reported incidents of people being shocked or electrocuted by cell phones plugged into sockets are counterfeit phones.

On the other hand social media platforms are portals of free expression for most people. Therefore it is inevitable that difference of ideas and opinions lead to online clashes.

Overall, Cell phones and social media love affair has brought exciting times of global connections and interaction. It is thrilling to be part of an era of expression and finding global commonality in various online interests. It is paramount that policies are established to counter its repercussions. 

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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