Experts caution against smartphone addiction

Experts caution against smartphone addiction

Sociology experts have cautioned that the unlimited use of smartphones will destroy societal values and norms. A smartphone is a cell phone that performs many of the functions of a computer. It has a touchscreen interface, can be connected to the internet and has an operating system capable of running downloaded applications.

But the technology swoops, according to researchers from Makerere University, are gradually eroding African values and norms of togetherness, marriage, family life, relationships, work ethics and interaction as well as means of instruction and the young generation interacts more with gadgets than individuals.

Dr Christine Mbabazi Mpyangu, a lecturer at Makerere University says that addiction to smartphone use has negatively affected behavioral patterns. Dr Mpyangu in her recent study on “Technology as a Threat to African Norms and Values” observes that many people’s lifestyles have greatly been affected by the available services, devices and applications.

Although she acknowledges the resourcefulness of smartphones in aiding research, mobile learning, and mobilization, among others, she notes that phones have strained friendships, marriages and businesses.

She also warns of alienation after relatives and friends feel satisfied by only interacting through the virtual networks.

“I, however, suspect that with time there might be a “techno-fatigue,” where people still find creativity, joy and satisfaction in meeting physically than only via phone,” Dr Mpyangu says.

Dr Gilbert Gumoshabe, a social anthropologist also emphasizes that addiction to technology over face-to-face interactions is dangerous.

Dr Gumoshabe advises that while it might be hard to go against the technological advancements such as the use of phones, he calls on society to rather embrace it and use it to enhance the interactions. He also calls for regulation of phone usage through self-discipline.

Diana Osinde, a 65-year-old pharmacist in Kampala agrees with the argument that smartphones have negatively impacted on families. She decries the dying culture of communication.

Eng. Elizabeth Magala notes that smartphone use is a necessary evil that has both simplified communication and hurt relationships due to addiction.

Augustine Damba, an accessories businessman on Kampala Road praises the smartness of smartphones.

A 2017/2018 survey carried out by the National Information Technology Authority (NITA) shows that approximately 24.8 million Ugandans owned mobile phones. 15.8 percent of the population is believed to own smartphones.

According to the 2017 Data from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) 13 million internet users in the country use smartphones to access popular social media sites such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.