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Ridwaan Ravat
04-21-2016, 11:12 PM
DAILY NEWS*/*18 Apr '16, 12:42am

Durban - South African teenagers are addicted to their cellphones, so much so that without them, they have withdrawal symptoms similar to those quitting drugs.

This is according to a survey by the University of South Africa’s Bureau of Market Research on high school pupils enrolled at 11 private and public secondary schools.

The survey, conducted in 2014 among 1 684 high school pupils revealed that more than 80% of pupils owned smart phones, with 47.6% of them displaying compulsive cellphone addiction behaviours.

“There is clear evidence that learners are immersed into cellphones, which has become their all-in-one device for all communication and information needs,” said Professor Deon Tustin, lead researcher of the study.

Tustin said 78.6% of pupils were “nomophobes” – coined from a term “no-mobile-phone-phobia” – who constantly had their cellphones close to them and at times when the cellphones were misplaced, became anxious.

“A slightly higher proportion of learners (52.3%) show typical habits associated with dependency disorder when compared to the 42.2% of learners that show typical psychological symptoms associated with cellphone overuse. Approximately, six in every 10 school learners (61.2%) are highly reliant on cellphones, regarded as a common denominator for inclusivity or being part of a digital cellphone community of friends. This finding also displays high levels of ‘ethnocentrism’ or beliefs among learners of the superiority of belonging to a mobile phone community or culture,” he said.

The survey found that cellphone use increased expansively over the past three years, with an average of between 25 and 35 calls being made and received daily by teenagers.

“Just less than half (46.5%) of learners spend more than 5 hours a day on their cellphones, 46.4% of learners store between 11 and 100 personal contacts on their phones, and approximately a quarter of learners store on average more than 12 cellphone applications.”

The survey found that 10% of pupils spent more than R500 a month on cellphones, a third spent between R100 and R500 a month, while a quarter spent less than R100 a month. One in 10 said they spent 80% of their total monthly pocket money on cellphones.

Alarmingly, some pupils admitted snapping and filming sexual content at school which they sometimes sold.

The study found that 12% of pupils said they had sent sexually suggestive nude images of themselves to others, while 72% said they regretted some of the texts they sent.

However, the majority of pupils mainly used their cellphones for music, games, taking photos and “virtual socialising”.

“It is also clear from the analysis that more than 80% of learners send photos or videos, which places them at risk of online predators. Furthermore, three-quarters (76.7%) of learners play games. Online gambling, shopping and reading are least practised by learners compared to other cellphone uses. “This finding suggests that learners have not yet nurtured cellphones as an online education tool to the same extent of using cellphone devices for entertainment and social purposes,” Tustin said.

Jackie Branfield, founder of Bobby Bear, which helps victims of child abuse, said parents should take an active role in their children’s cellphone behaviour.

“Children taking nude pictures of themselves and sharing it with others, sometimes much older people is a reality. A mother from England called me recently saying that they went through her 9-year-old son’s cellphone and found pictures of his genitals, pictures of an 18-year-old’s genitals, including explicit messages. I told him to go straight to the police,” she said.

Branfield said parents should set boundaries in the home as to when cellphones could be used and should actively monitor their children’s behaviour.

“Most parents want to be friends with their children and they should just forget it. They have plenty of friends and parents should not let their children do as they please. They should tell them ‘I bought this phone for you and I will check it’ .”

'I'm not addicted'

Magdel du Preez,*34, uses a Nokia Lumia 535 at least 10 times a day and said she was not addicted to it. “My phone is mostly in my bag during the day and I never touch it when I am driving. I use my tablet more than I use my phone,” she says.

Du Preez says she can go on for hours and even days without a cellphone. “I have often travelled to places where I had no reception and did not miss my phone at all.”

When she does touch her phone, Du Preez uses it as an alarm clock in the morning, for calls and text messages, mostly for WhatsApps, as well as Instagram.

“I drive on the highway often and I hate it when I see people on their phones, texting or calling, which I think is very dangerous.

“I also hate it when I am with friends and everyone is on their cellphones all the time; I find it rude and unsociable.”

‘I use it a lot’

Mpho Matsame,*23, an IT graduate from Mabopane, has been using his Blackberry Bold smartphone for over four years.

“I check my phone every hour, perhaps even much shorter than an hour. When I wake up, I check the time and messages that may have come through while I was sleeping,” he says.

Matsame says his cellphone kept him connected to the world. “I mainly use it for social media. I prefer Facebook more than the rest because it keeps me updated with the latest trending news from my friends and everywhere else in the world,” he says.

Matsame says he cannot imagine his life without a phone. “I can’t live without my phone, unless it has been stolen or broken. I don’t know of any other simpler and quicker way of keeping up with the rest of the world than a cellphone.”

‘I always have it’

Ntsako Mathye*is a 30-year-old medical rep who cannot keep off her phone. It is the first thing she touches when she wakes up. “My alarm goes off then I get into my Bible app and read my morning devotion. I then check Facebook and then get up.”

Before she sleeps she gets on to her phone to say goodnight to her social media friends. “I have my phone with me all the time.”

When she works it is on her desk where she can see it. She takes it with her to the toilet too, and says she has never had to voluntarily keep it away from her.

The longest she was without it was during a three-hour trip home when her battery had died and she was stuck in traffic. “It was the longest three hours of my life.”

She's also a big selfie taker. “You can’t take one selfie at a time; you change position, flick your wrist this way and that and pout.”

‘I need rehab…’

Anna Quan,*25, works in retail. She admits that her cellphone behaviour is bad.

Quan says she has four mobile gadgets which she is forced to stay away from for most of the work day.

“Once I am off work I get on to them and can stay on for hours,” she says.

She gets on to social media, checks for updates.

Thereafter, she searches social media websites. She also does her uploads.

“Selfies are the big thing for me. I take them and upload them.”

She respects company and can stay away from her gadgets when with other people.

Quan admits she spends as much time as possible on the gadget. “Addiction is real. I see it all around me all the time,” she says.

“There is a need for cellphone addiction rehab.”
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BeTheChange
04-22-2016, 05:15 PM
Asalamualykum,

I can see a growing problem with technology and the youth.

Most of them do display obsessive traits.

May Allah swt protect us all Ameen.
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