According to a recent report by the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U), around 16% of the local population – with ages mostly between 15 and 24 years – now own a smartphone. This is all part of Africa’s digital revolution which sees an ever-increasing number of people, mostly younger ones, purchase connected devices and spend more and more time using them – browsing the web, updating social networks, and consuming all types of media. Smartphone penetration in Uganda is still very low compared to some of the leading countries in the world – for example, 88% of the people in South Korea now own a smartphone – so this is the perfect time to point out the best practices to avoid problems caused by excessive smartphone use.
The ease of access to entertainment on smartphones makes them very attractive for younger generations. Worldwide, youngsters aged 18 to 24 have been shown to spend as much as four hours on their smartphones, sometimes even exceeding seven hours a day – that translates to between 120 and 200 hours each month. And this excessive usage of a connected device often leads to what specialists call “digital addiction”.
Digital addiction is a disorder when the subject – usually a young male or female – can’t seem to be separated from a digital device, most often a smartphone or a computer connected to the internet. This phenomenon can have a major negative impact on the person’s life, pushing them to choose digital entertainment over outdoor activities and sports, and reducing the time they spend interacting with each other in real life.
In many European countries, specialists are recommending that children as young as 13 enroll in so-called “digital detox” programs to reduce their smartphone usage to the acceptable minimum.
To avoid digital addiction, it is important for parents to limit their children’s smartphone usage. Children tend to be immersed in the endless entertainment options an internet-connected smartphone offers them – don’t let them get lost in the world of easy fun and social media and neglect their duties and studies. And by all means, don’t ket your kids take their phones to bed with them and use them before going to sleep. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted by the smartphone screen – or the computer screen, for that matter – makes it harder for people to fall asleep. Putting some distance between your kids and their electronics when the time to sleep comes will help them fall asleep easier, sleep more, and perform better at school the next day.