I don’t know if you have been caught up in the flurry and lining up for the availability of the new Blackberry 10 which was launched this year? Everyone is talking about it, aware of it, placing their order for an unlocked one or looking for someone who can buy them one. Now what happens when one of these eager owners of the newest blackberry smartphone in town happens to be your teenager? What do you do? What should you do?
The question is does a teenager really need a blackberry in the first place? We all know that the blackberry has evolved from what it was initially setup for which was to enable workers to be available, to work from anywhere by having access to their emails.
Now the blackberry is just a cool tool to have to be able to use the blackberry messenger to chat (aka bb) with the long list of friends and acquaintances, access the internet, perhaps use whatsapp, watch a few you tube videos, access twitter, facebook, read emails and yes make the occasional phone call.
As adults we can barely manage the use of the smart phone (I think the blackberry is smarter than us because it has successfully gotten us all to spend more time with it than we do on human interaction) most of us are more reliant and dependent on our smart phones than anything else! Have you seen a couple at dinner who are not talking to each other but are both fixated to their phones chatting?
So again what does a teenager need a blackberry for? We can safely say that at least here in Nigeria most of our teenagers are not earning hard earned wages working at part time jobs and are not earning a kobo to their name. They are most likely having their blackberry supplied by their parents, their credit and data plan paid for by their parents. This is where the parental guidance usually ends. Most parents do not monitor and or restrict the use of the blackberry once it is in the hands of their children.
How many parents discuss the potential dangers of the blackberry and the internet in general? Discuss what your teenagers are talking about? Restrict the amount of time they spend on the blackberry and the internet? Then again children do learn from thier parents more by actions rather than by talking. So if a parent is spending all his or time on their blackberry – can you really ask your child to restrict how much time they spend on their bb?
We have to be careful with the easy access children (yes even that teenager who might be taller and more stylish than you is still a child) have to the Internet and this sixth finger called the blackberry. The Internet can be both a tool and a huge distraction, it is a tool for research, for calling or pinging someone in an emergency and yes for recreation. However it becomes a distraction and a danger when virtually all your time is spent on it, if it is used to chat in school during time meant for learning, easy access to dangerous sites, people and negative influences. Children nowadays are loosing the ability to socialize properly and it is the job of the parents to teach them that they cannot “bb a hug or a handshake”. Using blackberry messenger and social media should not take the place of face to face interaction or a phonecall.
So if you feel your teenager needs to use a blackberry be sure you are on his or her bb list, randomly check their chats, restrict the amount of data you buy for them (250MB is a huge difference from 500MB) and don’t forget to lead by example – do not spend all your time on the bb chatting and then ask them not to do so. And from a medical point of view you don’t want your children straining their eyes starring at those small screens all day long.
I think cellphones are necessary for teenagers only to make calls if and when necessary…So there is no reason for it to be an expensive smartphone. Access to the internet to do research and homework should be via a home computer in a central place where its use can be monitored freely.
*bb is the short form of the blackberry