Say ‘Elo’ To Kenya’s Solution To Tourist Communication

Published by: Givens Kachero (638161) | Winnie Booker (652857) | Hussein Jiva (628978) | Lewis Ochieng (652838)

Kenya is a hotbed of culture, attractions and innovation – a reputation the nation has earned for its various exploits, achievements and contributions. And among the key sectors that have contributed to the country’s burgeoning success stories is the tourism sector.

Continue reading Say ‘Elo’ To Kenya’s Solution To Tourist Communication

How you can be caught by your spouse while involved in digital infidelity in this digital age By Peter Kuta

Continue reading How you can be caught by your spouse while involved in digital infidelity in this digital age By Peter Kuta

DIGITAL MEDIA IS TRANSFORMING OUR COOKING SKILLS

By Christine Amira

Digital media has made food preparation convenient, entertaining and easy to learn. A recent Google consumer survey showed that 59% of 25-34- year olds head to the kitchen with either their smartphones or tablets.

A tablet being used as a recipe guide in the kitchen
A tablet being used as a recipe guide in the kitchen

Photo courtesy of blog.proclipusa.com

People now have easier access to recipes, cookbooks and tutorials to enhance their cooking skills. Digital capability has made it easy to create digital videos, digital images and digital write ups in binary formats and distribute online. The internet has exacerbated access to this information worldwide through the use of smart phones, television and other digital electronics.

An example of a famous worldwide website that enables its users to find, create and save recipes is Pinterest,  it can also adapt to every user’s preferences making it easy to learn how to prepare foreign foods at the convenience of your house with a personal touch. Individuals no longer need to travel to specific countries or spend loads of money in 5-star restaurants to enjoy international cuisines.

blank recipe book on kitchen table
Photo courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com

Hyper-mediation is often used in sites such as All recipe  to offer control over instructional background or offer any other relevant information to engrossed parties interested in buffing up their cooking skills. Copy Me That also uses hyper-mediation to enable its users copy any recipe from as many websites and place them in one location with just one click. The recipes collected can be saved to the computer, or can be organized with tags and added to shopping lists.

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Photo courtesy of http://www.copymethat.com

Digital media has a networked characteristic that enables coordination, communication and promotion of cooking brands or interested parties in cooking.  Social media and especially Facebook has made it easy for users to create groups on cooking e.g. Recipes,cooking and food  or Easy Kenyan Recipes pages where people can share videos, photos, recipes and other content. In these groups people can also work together, respond to queries and give appraisals because digital networks are bi-directional.

Interactivity as a characteristic of digital media has made it easy for humans to interact with computer programmes, contemporary sellers in the food industry are now taking advantage of this feature by offering online dealings via the internet.  This means that consumers can buy goods, pay for goods and redeem coupons online and these goods are subsequently couriered to their homes and offices.

 

buyig food

Photo courtesy of http://www.vietnamnews.com

A Vietnamese woman visiting a website to buy food like many other busy women who flock online websites to shop.

Media Convergence has also made it more convenient for consumers to gain information on food preparation, this is evident by the increase of cooking shows which means the number of audiences interested in this content keeps rising.  People can now watch and listen to national and international television shows such as Top Chef and Master Chef and on their smart phones, tablet, television, iPods and Radio among other digital gadgets.

The fact that content is digital means that it can easily be corrupted. In editing videos, photos and other creative content this characteristic many seem advantageous but on the other hand it poses a major challenge in the food and business industry. Experts in creating content for monetary incentives are now challenged with copyright, piracy and trademark issues that did not pre-exist in the analogue age but are now an inevitable problem.

I am not a perfect chef and in fact the internet has revealed to me of how much an armature I am.  I wonder how we would exist should the digital age that has conveniently made it possible for us to access digital content on cooking worldwide would not have come to pass, this is because growing up I was bored with monotony in food preparation but now I can access ways of preparing tasty, unfamiliar and creative meals whilst giving them a personal touch.

Looking into the future there are more transformations to look forward to, below is a video of how robots could change the future of cooking.

 

Charity and Technology

Saadia Ali

A few years back I remember walking down Moi Avenue along a small narrow road hoping to make it to the bus stop before it rained. It was such a gloomy day. In the midst of all this rush, I spotted a little girl she couldn’t have been older than 5 years old. She had no shoes on and a dress that looked like it was the only one she owned. She silently leaned on a wall on the opposite side of the road. I stared at her from a distance because I was curious to see what she had in her hand. I was shocked to see her dusting dirt off a piece of bread that looked like she picked from the floor, so that she could eat it. Shocked and saddened by the sight of this young girl’s suffering I accepted my responsibility to giving back to my society.

Charity is a social and moral responsibility that maybe felt by some and not others. In addition this responsibility has been greatly understood over the years and gained momentum within our societies all thanks to technology and its development. Technology is changing the world of philanthropy. With the number of apps increasing, high speed Internet, it has been made easy for us to learn about causes we deeply care for and has made the process of donation or offering others support and assistance more convenient and enjoyable.

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Source: Pin Interest

Continue reading Charity and Technology

Evolution of Music in Africa in the Digital Era

By Isaac Masiga

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Nyatiti Band Players.                                  Source: singingwells.org

 

 

Introduction

Music has been termed as a universal language that has broken barriers of communication in such a way that one doesn’t need to pursue in depth studies in order to understand music. It comes naturally. Music is not limited to words. The words in a piece of music make just part of the elements that describe music. Music has a way of evoking different emotions even if the words may not be understood. Continue reading Evolution of Music in Africa in the Digital Era

Mass media and the changing faces of news collection in the Digital Era, By Ndiga Kithae

 

The mass media studies emerged in the early middle ages with the church (Mcquail 2008) having various means of reaching the public without exceptions. However, it was in the late sixteenth century when independent media came into place with the birth of newspaper two hundred years after print technology was invented.

The newspaper as medium of mass communications involved production of regular editions did not become an effective tool of the mass medium until the twentieth century according to mcquail, (mass communication theory 2008) when large enterprises took publishing as a business.News paper as a medium of mass media communication was followed by radio broadcasting, film and later televisions broadcasting.

The mass media communications was revolutionised by the advent of satellite communication and the entrance of computer. The entrant of the Internet has also enhanced the accessibility of news to the public especially with online news. Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s, envisaged an environment when the world turned into a global village with the advent of new technologies since technology broke down the geographical barriers. Today, with the development of smartphones and faster transmission of data through Wi-Fi and most recently, LI-FI launched in Dubai, on March 2016, the world indeed is not a ‘global village’ but in ‘our palm’. With a smart phone, and with access to LI-Fi, you can transmit data at a speed of 220 GB per second!SOu

 

Whereas we have looked at the process through which the mass mediums have been transformed over the century, it is also important to review how the news collection process has also evolved.

Traditionally, the news production is largely encapsulated under journalism and a journalist according to American Press Institute is person who uses particular methods to gather and assess information for publications. The process of news collection and production for print, radio and television are similar. The journalists congregate in the newsroom in the morning and ran through the docket and a reporter is sent to venue where an event is taking place. A print reporter is accompanied by a photographer, a radio reporter is accompanied by a recorder while a television reporter is accompanied, by a camera man.

Once the materials are collected, they are brought back to the newsroom for processing and by the news editors and the sub-editors before the newspaper is published or a radio story or television story is aired. The whole process of the news production was controlled at the newsrooms by the news producers and the news owners. In absence of telephone It would a whole day to produce a story since reporter has to report back to the newsroom to file a story.

Sub-editors preparing to publish a newspaper in a newsroom in the early 20th century
Evening standard Newsroom.Sub-editors preparing to publish a newspaper in a newsroom in the early 20th century. Photo courtesy os Getty images

The public or the mass audience were deemed to be inactive and relied on the news from the media houses as presented by journalists. It is not surprising then that the early mass media theories were based on the facet. The hypodermic needle theory, cultivation theory, agenda setting theory and framing theories are all based on this assumption.

With the advent of digital media and social media, this news gathering process has been disrupted. The audience are no longer static objects waiting to be bombarded with news from the mass media channels but they are also active players in the news production.

All leading media houses now have digitlal media links
All leading media houses now have digital media links

By definition, social media are computer related tools which allow individuals to share, create and exchange information directly without any mediations. As a public relation practitioners, I do not need to send a press release to a newsroom so that the same can be relayed to my target audience. Directly, through the website, Facebook or twitter, this information can be shared directly.

The media houses have woken up to this truth and have embraced new means of news collection.According to a Pew Research in 2014, it was found that 46% of social media users posted their own photos of news events to a social networking site, while 12% had posted videos. This practice played a role in a number of recent breaking news events, including the riots in Ferguson USA in 2015.

To respond to this new development, media house giants like British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)have restructured and adopted a new mode of news collection and dissemination.

When BBC set up a user generated content (UGC)hub in 2005 to monitor social news in the newsroom, they never anticipated the importance of news gathering from this approach and only assigned two journalist to manage the hub.According Trushar Barot, the chief news editor then, after one week of setting up the unit, the July 7th 2005 bombing of London underground train took place. Initial reports indicated that the explosion was caused by a power surge and until, the audiences who witnessed the event started sharing images, on social media, BBC realised that it was not a power surge but a terrorist bomb attack and this changed the whole story.

Bart avers, that from this incidence, they learnt that the audience knew more than BBC, the audience helped the media house tell the story faster and tell the story better. Today, UGC has a permanent presence inside the BBC newsroom and instead of two journalists, they have more that 20 media journalists covering international and domestic stories. and operates for twenty four hours.

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A team of journalist are now based in the newsroom to look for news from the social media applications

CNN in July 2006 launched IREPORT platform to allow citizens or individuals file stories rather than wait for their news report to do the same. This has brought about citizens journalism all facilitated by the emerging digital and social media trends.

In recognition of the importance of the social media in news gathering, several tools have been developed to assist journalists gather news faster.Facebook lists and tweetdeck have been used by journalist to keep them abreast with their specific beats. Storyful, as social newswire has developed tools for monitoring numerous lists on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other networks and use key words to relate to news event.Previously,journalist popularly used newswires such as AFP, Reuters etc to monitor news story.

Malachy Browne, the news editor of Storyful, in an interview told Journalism .co.uk journal that, they have developed social media monitoring tools which also include geolocation of posts and tweets. Storyful, owns a software known as Heat map and can search for news based on the velocity of tweets or posts from different geographical location and this is enable by the fact that most smartphones have GPS features.

 

The media houses in Kenya have restructured to include digital media platforms and this has seen some redundancy. Both the Standard, People Daily, The star and nation media have dedicated digital media teams have developed their with news applications to have a presence in the social media scene.

Other applications like InformaCam have been developed help journalist verify information scoured from the social networks and make the process of user generated content easier. In conclusion, social media has not only, revolutionised news collections process but also call for need to develop new mass media theories to explain this new phenomenon which undermines the popular media effects theories developed in the 1920s.

Has the digital technology changed the way we think of food?

By Zainab Mboga

girl-should-know-how-to-cook. Source: www.iroy.in
girl-should-know-how-to-cook. Source: http://www.iroy.in

Food has been my passion ever since I was a little child, and having to grow up at “Mama Halimas” house at the Kenyan coast, cooking was not an option. By the age of 10 cooking was my destiny. While having  many failed experiments with cooking food she would always say “wacha Israf” which simply meant “stop wasting” learn to salvage what you can serve. I have ever since lived with the mantra of appreciating food. So what has changed?

Social media technology has seen a growth in Africa In Kenya for the past five years there has been a tremendous increase use of new technology in the form of computers and mobile phones. Photos taken during rituals, celebrations, fun and captivating moment even just boring days, people have found a way of escape to the internet to serve their ever-growing need to socialize  by uploading images. According to a CNN blog in 2016 Kenya has been listed the third in Africa in terms of internet consumers with 4.5 million users, 12 million in South Africa while 15 million users originating from Nigeria.  Keeping in mind that over 80% of the users were using their mobile phones.

source: mtotowangu.wordpress.com
source: mtotowangu.wordpress.com

In 2013 there was an approximately 1.6 million daily uploads on Flickr alone on average. By 2015 the number increased to 60.7 million photos a month. Uploading photos is the most popular activity on both Facebook and twitter, while Instagram, currently the largest photo sharing media tool that grew by 23% in 2013. With the likes of Hash tags #TBT #ThrowbackThursday  was born, a platform where people upload their old photos  to pass a fun and exciting message to rest of the world.

The internet technology has created a platform for expressing personal views to the world over. Just as one of the 99 thesis of clue train manifesto where by the internet through the digital platforms has created a means through the global village with its high-speed nature thus “internet is enabling conversation” well explained. According to Instagram 90 new photos are uploaded every minute while in Facebook 60 photos are uploaded daily. The trend seems to be increasing over time. During the recent months Coca-Cola company had started a new trend where their sodas had branded name and had an online campaign challenge to make participants share their meals with coke #ShareaCoke where one will find their desired name tags, win by being awarded free meals and other merchandises. This brought about the increase in uploads of photos that accelerated social conversations.

source: www.cocacola.com
source: http://www.cocacola.com

This new trend of sharing meals has almost become our daily activity. This created the need to visit the newly eatery phenomenons in the country. Cultures of going to Pizza In, Java, KFC and now Subway has seen increasing attendance such that people can be able to share the experiences their friends and family. The terrific Tuesdays and the Pizza Wednesdays where food is sold at buy one get one free has enabled a good number of the people experiencing new foods and later posting them.

Food shows have been increasing in the country from Pika chakula, Royco Fuata Flavor to the AfyaBora show and chungu chetu airing on local television stations have received a welcomed viewing in the local market. Youtube on the other hand has given everyone an opportunity to be a broadcaster. People upload thousand of videos and people from all over the world would subscribe to a particular channel. Restaurants, chefs and homemade artists would upload their videos and sometimes be trending for either good or weird foods  even the media houses would upload some of the content for bloopers. For example food channel on Youtube, worst cooks in America, Hell’s kitchen, cooks versus cons which not only entertain but also teach the viewers on new terminologies and how they are cooked.

muk-bang 

In south Korea, however, a new trend of food appreciation is tested to the limit. The eating of meals online providing an opportunity or someone else in the world to dine with them in real time

 In 2000, BBC discovered a big gap in the society thus including a programming content so as to share the rising social problems brought by food. They launched supersize versus super skinny where they were they swap foods for a week and taught to be average portions.

The United Nations is one of the organizations that have used the social media for awareness of the sustainable development goals in order to reduce wastage of food. In their research, the United Nations on the November 2010 declared that more than a third of food is wasted every year a number that has been rapidly increasing and there was a need for the global world to reduce food wastage and reduce poverty rates.

photo by: coconutcraze.wordpress.com
photo by: coconutcraze.wordpress.com

In summary, for I being a food lover am pleased to say that the local foods have indeed changed from simple traditional foods to now more convenient, appealing, high nutrition value and free delivery through the promotions by social media trends and food ambassadors. “You are what you eat” a common statement reminding everyone to eat just right, glad to be part of the online food revolution.

GET YOUR SHOP ON..

k1760691By Karen Muthoni

Every woman, Black, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, you name it, has one thing in common; they love to shop not only as a pastime but for its therapeutic quality. Two things that are closest to a girl’s heart are her handbag and a fancy pair of shoes which like it or not are a must have. A girl can go hungry but she will not be caught dead with an ugly pair of shoes I mean who would right? Looking the part at a gathering, soothing a broken heart or rewarding yourself for a well-deserved achievement is one of the many reasons shopping is a must do.

Traditionally, going shopping involves scheduling a day weeks in advance, gathering the cavalry (it’s no fun when you are all alone) and raiding every single store you can think of. This is in a bid to find the perfect pair of shoes, jewelry or dress for that occasion that you need to be the show stopper. It takes every effort and zaps all your energy as you shop hop and listen to weary sales agents go on and on about how you should pick this item over the other.

To say that this is a tedious task would be a grave understatement aside from it being a delightful and salutary affair. The number of stores one has to visit in search of the very elusive unique item , to the number of sales agents who would say just about anything to get you to purchase an item can take a toll on anyone. In reality you can try on something hideous and the attendants will smile sheepishly and say how fancy you make the item look as they chase for that commission that your buy brings. As if that is not enough you have to deal with traffic both on the road and human traffic say at the mall or wherever your shopping bonanza takes you.

shopping-woman-4934798http://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/exhausted-shopper.html

Despite the benefits of this all so exciting venture, shopping sprees not only need money, but also need plenty of time for shop hoping and of course ample room to carry all the loads of shopping bags that come with this pricey expedition. It such a wonder anyone ever went shopping with all the baggage it carried. Yes the time you spend with your friends is worthwhile but sometimes you spend all day looking for something that you would not find or worse still spending tones of money on something you do not fancy and may never use.

 

 

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Scam Awareness & Shopping Rights Seminar

 

Fast forward to the 21st century and shopping is no longer a preserve of the elite or those who have tones of money to spend and loads of time on their hands. You can now have whatever your desires at the click of a button at little or no extra cost whether or not you have free time on your hands or you as busy as can be. The phenomenon that is the internet has changed how everything is done and redefined convenience as we know it. Not only can you get all the information you require about any subject you can think of but you can acquire any item your heart so desires at the comfort of your space.

The internet has revolutionized the way we do business and leveled the shopping field literary. If you are a book fad for instance, all you need to do is type the title of the book you are looking for or better yet the subject which you would like to know about ‘voila’ a library of books to choose from. Better still, if you want to buy a book sites like Amazon and eBay would be more than happy to oblige along with shipping. With this you not only have the luxury of picking the item you need but also enjoy the luxury of having it brought to your door step we are literary spoilt for choice.

online-shopping-q3-2014

Strong Growth in China Online Shopping Market in Q3 2014

 

Sites like OLX, Jumia, Kilimall ,Pigiame and many others have taken the role of being our shopping delight and eased our minds because not only do they bring items to us they narrow down the choices for us as well. If you need a phone for instance you have various sites to choose from and that’s not all you can purchase depending on your budget. It gives you the option of looking up the features, viewing reviews from other users and comparing it with other gadgets of the same caliber in the market. You can choose first hand or second hand and you do not have to pay until you get to see the item and verify that it meets your need.

Not only has the internet brought shopping closer to us and given us the convenience of home delivery, it has also opened an opportunity for us to sell items we no longer use in the instance that we need to upgrade to a higher version or better model. If you have house hold items or electronics that no longer serve your needs, all you have to do is take pictures price it and post it on a site and wait for it to sell. That is the option OLX has put in our hands which allow us to look for buyers without the hustle of trade marketing.

 

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Maximize your Shopping Experience Online

Social media has also heightened the online shopping experience. It is faster and cheaper to find these sites by searching them on social media. That is also coupled with a mobile phone application which makes it even easier to transact wherever you are either at home, at work or on the go. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the hustle that comes with dealing with crowded malls online shopping is definitely the way to go. You can literary multitask perhaps finish a report, get your nails done while handling your shopping rather than have your whole day doing one thing however exciting the experience maybe.

 

 

The Internet: Changing millions of lives, one new Job at a time

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The Internet: Many people now have unlimited power in their hands. Image courtesy  theinstitute.ieee.org

By Kenneth K Mburu

Nearly two years ago, I completed my undergraduate studies. As you would expected, my parents were ecstatic as going by the traditional believe that a well educated fellow always lands a lucrative job, I was on my way to becoming a highly-paid, very prominent member of the society. But like most of my fellow graduates, I was not very optimistic about life after school. Statistics had shown that unemployment rates in Kenya had more than doubled since the turn of the millennium with many university graduates forced to stay without a job for an average of five years. But luckily, a few days after my graduation, a job posting on Facebook would prompt me to apply for a position in a startup company, and after a few rounds of interviews, I secured my first job. Interestingly, my job description required me to be connected to the internet throughout as the company was generating its revenue entirely through Google’s popular revenue program AdSense.

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Google Adsense Poster: Never in my wildest imagination had I thought that Facebook and Google would combine forces to jump start my career. Image by shoemoney.com

      22 months later, I was back on the job hunting scene. This time round popular networking site, LinkedIn, proved to be very resourceful. A few days after announcing to the world that I was jobless, a recruiter for a British based company contacted me and needless to say, I was employed for a second time thanks to the connectivity and interaction that the internet has brought with it.

       What was initially started as a means of the US government to transmit information electronically has evolved to an omnipresent outlet where humans can easily find meaningful connections. Each passing second, the internet is mutating and growing ever larger and more complex but at the same time providing millions of people with the opportunity to better themselves.

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The Internet In one Minute: The Internet is pretty dynamic, changing every second. Photo courtesy http://www.cnet.com

Unlike any other technology ever invented, the internet has successfully managed to provide a means through which humans can overcome age old obstacles to human interactions. Be it language barriers, geographical restrictions or even financial restrains, people across the globe can now easily interact and learn from each other. This has led to the rise of a new age of creativity among humans. Never before have so many people had as much information and power in their hands. For many who have been able to take advantage of the internet, the benefits have been immense. Take for instances the world javelin champion, Julius Yego, a man who has been able to break world records and rise to be a celebrated sports personality thanks to a skill learnt via watching You Tube videos.

‘Yego’ by Khaligraph Jones: Yego’s success story has been so impressive that songs have even been sang in his honor.

Each new day, internet connectivity is spreading and new portions of the world are welcomed into the online arena. Among these entrants are both new and old companies. One of the greatest fears that people have with the spread of the internet is on job automation with many fearing that the human workforce will be replaced by automated machines. While this might be true, as past revolutions, for instance the industrial revolution and the digital revolution, have often come at the expense of certain categories of jobs, some global economic analysis have shown that the internet has in fact added more jobs than it has obliterated. According to McKinsey and Company, internet has created 2.6 new jobs for every 1 deleted. This means that with each passing day, university graduates, who media reports had claimed would remain jobless for at least five years, have more than double the chance of finding a job provided they position themselves appropriately. Think about the different communities that sprout each day to help the youth find jobs.

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Communities are helpful: The Internet is a database full of information to help us build connections: Image courtesy optimum7.com

These communities bring together people with similar interest and making it easier to build helpful contacts all over the world, something one could not do so easily without the internet. The internet has  provides equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of how shy or confident one is, the internet will provide a means to make communicating that much more easier, keep in mind that one can pretend to be whatever they want to be.

In line with the clue train manifesto, the internet has succeeded in breaking down the once limiting top-down control of those in authority. One of the regular McKinsey reports clearly highlights how the “Internet of Things” will create brand new ways of doing business and disrupting the traditional back and forth of conducting business. Ideally, this means creation of new opportunities for job creation as different companies strive to remain relevant and retain their customers. In additionally, the Internet is full of information that can help potential entrepreneurs start successful ventures. Furthermore, as Executive Street notes, internet penetration has caused a selling revolution by placing the purchasing and decision making authority in the hands of prospective buyers. This means that if one website does not have what a buyer wants, another Website will meet their needs. This gives startups an equal playing field with multi-nationals.

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Startups now have a platform to compete with multinationals: Image courtesy of Google 

As more ‘traditional’ jobs are replaced with new jobs that have been brought about by the internet, university graduates will have to align themselves with the new types of work. Additionally, they will need to be as dynamic and as comfortable to adjusting to the regular changes that are bound to happen in the work place. And in order to remain relevant and reliable once they join the work force, they will need to learn how to be resilient and able to recognize and make the most of new opportunities. Being technologically literate will be one of the key elements of beating unemployment as companies are now rushing to adopt digital strategies that will see them survive in the new digital era. In short, mastering new ways of working will be key to a person’s employ-ability.

But even as all this happens, one can’t help but wonder how the market will be like in the next 15-30 years. Will there be need for offices or will everyone opt to work from the comfort of their homes, hotel suites or airplane seats? Will Whatsapp messaging app and Instagram Direct Message be adopted as the main form of communications deeming interpersonal communications, that current employers value so much, irrelevant?  Will  robots take over the world and force humans to migrate to another planet? Or maybe someone on the internet might just create an app that will turn all social networking sites, Google and the internet as a whole into some sort of virus forcing everyone to turn back to the traditional way of doing things. You never know!

 

New age parenting: A hurdle or not?

By Esther O Ochieng

Babies using tablet - source wall street journal
Photo Source: Wall Street Journal

Being a mother of two young girls I often debate with other parents or at times with myself about the effect of internet and digital gadgets on our lifestyles as opposed to the older times when we were raised. Gone are the days when parents had a lighter time raising children. Parents were the main source of information that nurtured a child’s character apart from peers, teachers and the community. Enter now, the digital age, myriads of information are flying by every second making parenting a daunting task. From a young age children are exposed to a lot of material online that may impact in their behavior. Have you seen a toddler trying to finger swipe a television or ‘analogue’ phones much to their frustration? I have seen many, I have even seen my children try it. It can be daunting.

TEENS_ON_SOCIAL_MEDIA www.umcom.org
Teens on social media. Source: http://www.umcom.org

Raising a child in the digital age needs parents to have guidelines on internet usage for their children. It’s not possible to just make a blanket decision and deny children especially teenagers access to online sources because they develop a stronger desire to access internet from other areas like peers, at school or cyber cafes. This alternative sources turn out to be unsafe as it isn’t regulated and possibly exposes the child to explicit or violent content.

A study by Pew Research Center revealed that 92% of teenagers are online on a daily basis. This has become possible through the ever increasing availability of smartphones and its ease of access into the internet.

credit- unicef kenya
Two young ladies in Kawangware Nairobi using their mobile phones on the side of the street. Credit UNICEF Kenya

It is literally difficult to deny your child access to a phone moreover the internet, I haven’t succeeded and my children are only just preschoolers. Today, a lot of practices children have developed come from the internet and not to fault them even adults’ lifestyle choices are affected by ease of access to the internet. Of all age groups, teenagers are most vulnerable because they are at a point in life where they’re easily impressed. There is an enormous amount of pressure to fit in which most of the time influences how they eat, dress and behave. Google, YouTube, streaming channels etc. just to mention a few have opened another world to them, albeit positively and negatively. Did you know that most of your children have watched pornographic materials at least a few times before they turned 18? This might be a shocker but according to statistics 92% of boys and 62% of girls have watched porn before their 18th birthday. This is according to a study by covenant press as seen in the image below.

covenant eyes
Statistics by covenant press on teens and porn. Credit http://www.covenantpress.com

Nonetheless, there are many potential benefits of the internet among teenagers when it is used productively. For instance, children can access educational material online which can be useful with studies. Gaming is also important for brain growth provided the amount of time taken in plating should be regulated and the types of games carefully chosen. They may use media channels online to connect with peers across national divides and create cross cultural friendships. There are many parents who have used new media positively and are having great results with their children. I have used media available online to teach my child various activities, learn colours and shapes, even to show her she can brush her teeth independently and successfully. See the video below also used by Fastrack Kids Kindergarten in Johannesburg to enhance social learning in class.

Social media and the internet are very useful tools to advance sustainable social and economic development. New technological advancements and milestones have been achieved during this digital age making it almost impossible to regulate this tool which is a double edged sword, it has its benefits but is also harmful. Researchers continue to look into way of making the internet safer to use to increase productivity for children. Parents are encouraged to teach their children on safe internet use in order to encourage responsible habits. This is no easy fit owing to the millions of information online. For starters, as a parent you need to be fully conversant with internet. Some parents are technology savvy and do not take much interest using internet. It becomes difficult to regulate someone from using a tool or service while you aren’t aware of its benefits and risks. Understanding internet usage enables a parent limit access to only appropriate content and interactions on social sites.

On a lighter note there’s an interesting video on you tube showing a toddler conducting CPR on a dummy. Amazing, right? The toddler must have observed someone doing it, right?  It is an arguably cute video but on the flip side it demonstrates how easy it is for a child to pick up a habit or behavior just by being exposed to it. You may watch it later on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRoSAkeV_Qc. Parenting is full time duty that requires a parent to be very observant of their children’s activities especially online. Psychologists encourage open communication between parents and children so that they’re able to guide on best practices of internet use and safeguard them from harmful retrogressive digital age cultures.

Here are a few simple procedures to guide internet usage for your child;

  • Constant supervision of internet use through computers or mobile phones
  • Initiating parenting controls on websites with obscene content like porn sites
  • Purchase of internet software that regulate internet browsing and safety
  • Educate your child on the dangers of accessing harmful websites especially clicking on those pop advertisements
  • Some may call it stalking but try to interact with your child while they’re online