Digital literacy is still at low level

Technology comes with blessings and curses all packed together. Manufacturers of tech gadgets like Samsung and Microsoft aren’t really concerned with the moral implications of their devices to users. Gadgets like smartphones doesn’t come with a moral guide but rather they come with a user manual on how to properly operate the device. What you make of a smartphone is entirely on you.

Now with the technology in our hands and within our houses, parenting has become more challenging than ever. Parents are trying their best to raise their children in good manners but sometimes somewhere, technology gets in the way of parenting. Children may come up with habits that even parents themselves will be shocked where that particular behavior came from.

In a country like Tanzania, which is still developing digitally, parenting is being hijacked by technology. The old tradition of elders nurturing young children through talking and storytelling is practically dying.

Unlike other digitally advanced countries like the US, well if what we see in their movies is true, that parents can monitor their children’s cell phones – what they subscribe to, what social media to sign in, things are different here in Tanzania.

And the irony is that, it is the children who are smarter with technology than their parents. Technology arrived a little bit late here, and don’t be surprised if I tell you that here parents — not all of them of course but most of them — ask their children to help them with creating a Facebook account. Parents themselves are still struggling to comprehend the use of social media. 

Now, how can a parent who doesn’t even know how to change a WhatsApp profile picture or update a status do with knowing what is going on with his son’s smartphone?

See, a child can sign up to every social media without his parents having a clue. Children can fool their parents by using pseudo names on social media, or literally block their parents from finding them in social media. All a child can do is download an app from play store that enable him to keep privacy of his images and videos from parents.

And mind you, porn is available and accessible here – it’s available on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube channels, WhatsApp groups and God knows what groups.

Also, there is television. Again, it is the children who operate the TV set, bring CDs of Korean dramas and sexually suggestive bongo flavor music. They do all these mostly alone. Parental guide for movies doesn’t really apply here, a ten-year-old can purchase a Fifty Shades movie with no restrictions from the seller.

So dear parents, if you yourselves are still struggling to understand this technology, it is wise you keep children away from it until they reach a reasonable age for them to have a smartphone. 

Children should be doing more arithmetic, sports and join reading clubs than watching TV and chatting online. And if there’s a need for integrating technology into children’s daily life, which I am sure there is, children must be guided with an adult. That way we can keep the moral compass of our children in the right direction.