Phone addiction: Stakeholders raise public awareness


Stakeholders in the North East region have called for rigorous public awareness at reawakening Nigerians on the adverse effects of addiction to cell phones.
The stakeholders made the appeal while responding to a survey conducted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bauchi, Maiduguri, Yola, Gombe and Dutse.
They raised concerns over the quantum of time people especially youths on making or receiving calls, apart from browsing and chatting.
The stakeholders noted the cultural, moral and health implications of such habit, warning that the society is losing a lot silently.
Mr Bilyaminu Jambil, software expert in Bauchi, said people from both rural and urban areas, educated or illiterate, and cutting across all ages, now depended on cellular telephone.
“The alarming fact is that many of these devices reach the market without any safety testing on their electromagnetic radiation.
“Constant usage and addiction to cell telephones affects people physically and psychologically by making them have aches and pains and in some, disability too.
“They lose their required number of hours of sleep, get angry over trivial matters because the mobile phone has taken over the management of critical situations and maintaining social relationships,” he said.
A teacher in Bauchi, Malam Ahmed Wakili, also told NAN that telephone had become an integral part of students with regards school activities like reading, carrying out academic assignments and relationships, among others.
According to him, this behaviour can reduce thinking capabilities, affect cognitive functions and induce dependency.
“The signs of Smartphone addiction are clear; the situation is such that students without the telephone constantly feel anxious or restless, until they are able to secure one for themselves,” Wakili said.
Malam Saminu Aliyu, an Islamic teacher, also observed that mobile phone addiction was in the increase, especially among young people.
“Even in the mosques, people forget they are in a place of worship; you see them checking their telephones before and after prayers, which is an indication that their minds are on the telephone, not prayers,” he said.
A Christian cleric, Mr Liktetet Bala, said the harm caused by Smartphone addiction could be more than the dangers of drugs or alcohol addiction in the society.
“People use telephone anywhere they find themselves, either in the house of God, for pornography, fraud and other dubious transactions.
“Unlike the drugs and alcohol that have specific places to take them, Mobile phones are used indiscriminately,” he said.
He noted that females were the most addicted because they were often idle at home, whereas the males were busy looking for what to fend for the family.
On his part, Malam Mijinyawa Jada, a parent in Bauchi, stressed that mobile phone addiction by young men and children was encouraging immorality.
“As parents, we have a responsibility to care; I think parents should not allow their kids to get addicted,” he advised.
Alhaji Muhammad Muhammad, a commercial motorist in Jigawa, said that some of the fatal road mishaps in the state were caused by indiscriminate use of cell phones while driving.
According to him, some drivers are in the habit of either making or receiving calls while driving on the highway, thereby risking the lives of their passengers.
He observed that most of those involved were youths between the ages of 18 and 35.
A medical practitioner in Dutse who preferred anonymity, said that over-addiction to phone could result in hearing impairments.
Similarly, respondents in Maiduguri expressed concern on the dangers of addiction to phones and ills associated with such act.
Mr Muhammed Hassan, a Secondary School teacher in Maiduguri, said the frequent use of mobile telephones, especially by students in colleges, had been having adverse effect on their studies.
He observed that students seemed to focus more on cell phone games, celebrities, Instagram and Face book, than concentrating on their studies, just as they copied all forms of antisocial behaviours through browsing.
Malam Bulama Abiso, the state Chairman, Nigerian Union of Teachers, who made similar observation, said most parents had been failing in their responsibility of monitoring the activities of their children.
“Students no longer perform well in schools because they waste more time with their phones on social media, than reading their books,” he said.
Dr Babagana Ibrahim, a Psychiatrist at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, said being addicted to Smartphone could lead to insomnia, poor quality sleep and depression, especially, among adolescents.
“Researchers observed reactions to four screen-based activities: social messaging, web surfing, TV/movies and gaming. They found gaming had the greatest effect on depressive symptoms,” he said.
Also explaining the health hazards of telephone addiction, Mr Haruna Mailabari, a specialist in the field of Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) treatment at the Specialists’ Hospital, Gombe, said frequent receipt of calls through right ear could cause brain cancer.
“I am advising the public to make and receive phone calls using the left ear because the location of brain is closer to the right ear.
“When you are receiving telephone calls or sound through the right ear, you may likely develop cancer of the brain,” he warned.
According to him, most of the cases they receive in the hospital have to do with loss of hearing as a result of constant use of cell phones.
Mr Donald Igbokwe, seller of handsets in Yola, urged government to device means of limiting frequency of use of cell phones, especially by youth.
On his part, Mr Mohammed Usman, Chairman of NURTW in Adamawa, called for intensified awareness campaign against making or receiving calls while driving. (NAN)

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