The importance of the Internet, especially the social media, as a source of information cannot be overemphasised.
By virtue of being on social sites, one is subjected to information that requires a lot of sieving dependent on one’s needs.
Some of the information can be offensive, obscene, humorous, educative or spiritually uplifting.
How, then, can children be protected from such a free flow of information to prevent them from bad influences?
Should young children own gadgets? Is it possible to protect and prevent children from immorality by among other things making sure they are not prematurely exposed to content that is deemed harmful?
Hastings Njala (Not real name) bought his son a phone when he was nine. Three years down the line, there are not traces of immorality in his son, according to him.
While acknowledging that management of junk coming into the son’s phone is not easy, Njala argues that the fact that the son is at times away from him is enough worry that he may be accessing inappropriate things, hence, no need to blame cellphones for immorality among children.
“It is difficult to manage children these days. You can try to control what they access on the phone, but we are not with them all the time. I talk to him about the good and bad things that come with smart phones.
“I am of course cautious not go ahead of his thoughts in terms of talking about specific things such as pornography. I could be directing him to things that have not yet crossed his mind,” he said
Child rights activist magistrate Esmie Tembenu cited health hazards as some of the reasons children below the ages of 16 must never own or have too much access to phones.
“Research shows that radiation by cellphones has so many adverse effects on children. The World Health (WHO) recently classified cellphone radiation as a cause of cancer to children, saying children absorb more than 60 percent of the radiation into the brain than adults.
“The disturbed brain activity can impair children’s learning abilities and other serious bad behavioural problems,” she said.
Tembenu further alluded high failure rates and laziness among school going children to cellphone addictions.
“Most waste time playing games, chatting and accessing pornography which has resulted in them being arrested for defilement or rape later in life for being overexposed to strong sexual scenes from tender ages,” said Tembenu.
She advised parents who decide to buy their children phones against frequently checking contents of the phones describing the move as invasion of privacy.
“Parents have the responsibility of controlling their children from anything hazardous activities, but at the same time refrain from violating children’s rights to privacy,” she added. n