Guest Author - Chinedum Ify Obikili
While social networking may be great for connecting with old friends, making new friends, sharing pictures and other personal stuff, our children are speedily getting addicted to it and like every other addiction; over-indulgence on social networking is harming our kids. Here is how:
1. Our kids are losing focus: These days a teenager who does not own an expensive cell phone or who is not linked to numerous social networking sites is despised and considered old-fashioned. Our children have lost focus on what their dreams and plans for the future are. Parents are mercilessly bugged by their kids to grant them permission to sign up with some of these sites.
2. Their grades are dropping: If you reside in Nigeria, you may have heard the news that about one million students who took the West African Council Examination (a prerequisite for getting into the university) failed the exam. This is the highest record of failure ever. The poor state of our educational system can't be fully blamed for this, even if it is close to 80% responsible. Our students are more interested in chatting and making new friends, downloading the latest hit songs and all. Seriously, with distractions like these, how much time do they have left for their studies? It is even worst now that school children own cell phones. They browse away their learning time, and do not pay attention to what they are being taught in school.
3. Poor vocabulary: While their grades are dropping, their use of English language is getting poorer by the day. This is as a result of the massive abbreviation of words, as they are used on social networking sites. Words like lmao, lol, brb, m2 and so on. Students are so used to these abbreviations that it affects their essays.
4. Misplaced priorities: Children are spending so much time online; this in itself exposes them to lots of unhealthy interest and desires. They are either obsessed over fashion, video games, hot make-ups, happening places, or hottest gossip around. They circulate this info among themselves via their cell phones even while at school. Our kids now run after things that they shouldn’t be interested in at this stage of their lives. They tend to be constantly distracted and this affects both their school life and life at home.
Finally, while we may not be able to completely keep our kids away from networking sites, we can at least do the following: set rules in regards to the use of cell phones at school especially in classrooms, find ways to limit the amount of time our kids spend online, ensure they do their home works as well as study at home. Also speak to them about some of the risk they are exposed to online. They need to understand that they could run into serious trouble by exposing their identities to everyone online. Make it a point of duty to completely check out any site your kid is asking your permission to sign-up for. Watch their languages too; make them correct themselves whenever the misuse an English word, that way you will be helping their vocabulary as well.