Jos – Nigerians resident in some North-Central States have decried youths addiction to phone usage and blamed the trend for rising cases of fraud and immorality in the society.
In separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), some respondents in Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger and Kogi States also blamed the trend for most road accidents, especially in urban areas.
They further blamed the declining reading culture and poor academic performance of youths on the addiction to their phones.
Mr Abdullahi Sanusi, a father of three residing in Nassarawa Gbong, Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau, claimed that youths spend “more than 60 per cent’’ of their time on their phones.
“Sometimes, they converge on specific junctions and even dance to music from their phones.
“It is worse in the evenings when they gather to `compare notes’ of their phones’ explorations and I suspect they use their phones to make love advances to girls on social media,’’ he said.
Sanusi said that boys in the area usually wear earplugs and get easily carried away.
“They are always at some specific meeting points. They hardly go home to help their parents with house chores or look for a source of livelihood for themselves,’’ he said.
Mr Abiodun Idowu, a telecommunication Engineer, who also spoke with NAN, said that males were more addicted to phone compared to females.
“The boys are much smarter and can explore all the uses and applications, especially in android phones.
“From my observations, I think the females use phones mostly because of the social media. They spend several hours chatting with friends and get abreast with trending styles, but the males play online games, get abreast with political and sports events and expand their business and professional circles.
“Very often, accidents have occurred when drivers got distracted using the phones, while some marriages are broken because partners are more addicted to chatting with people or surfing the internet instead of having family conversations,’’ he said.
Mrs Phoebe Musa, a marriage counsellor, said that women had often reported cases of infidelity with evidence found in their husbands’ phones, saying that the social media had offered access to varieties of women for advances.
On the health implications of phone addiction, Dr Juliette Ango, a Public Health specialist, said that long time exposure to electro-magnetic waves could be hazardous for fertile men, especially the adolescent men.
She said that repetitive movements of the fingers, while texting, could lead to musculoskeletal disorders which are soft issue injuries typically caused by sustained exposure to repetitive motion, force, vibration and awkward positions.
Residents of Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, have also said that phone addiction was largely a youth affair with elderly residents having lesser interest outside making calls.
Mr Adamu Samaila, an estate agent, said that the youths were more engaged with phone gadgets because the innovations in such phones could easily be understood, mastered and manipulated, misused and abused.
“Clearly, the youths know how to master some of the innovations in these phones more than the elderly ones. That is why they are more addicted to phones than any other group in the society.
“Sometimes, if you see the way a teenager will use and manipulate the applications on a phone, you will wonder if he was there when the gadget was being made. So, because they have a better understanding of phones, they are prone to getting addicted to it,’’ he said.
Miss Ajoke Simon, another resident, agreed that phone addiction was largely a youth affair because “elderly people hardly do more than just making calls’’.
“The youths perform all manners of tasks on the phones. This is why they get totally addicted to them.
“The phones of today have the imprint of youth on them because the youths do more than just call. They download, upload, take pictures, browse the internet and use it for so many other things unlike the older ones who only make calls and dump the facility until there is the need for another call,’’ she said.
Mr Kabiru Yunusa, an elderly trader in Lafia, said that many elderly people had little interest on phones because they cannot meet up with the constant new innovations introduced by phone companies in a bid to outsmart each other and gain more customers.
“Everyday, there is something new. So it is not easy for us to catch up. Besides, a lot of us are very busy and have very little time to spend on a phone.
“We have to work hard to meet ends meet so as to provide for our families. Only youths can afford to remain addicted to phones,” he said.
But in spite of the addiction to phone usage and its attendant consequences, the Benue Sector o the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) says it has not recorded any road accident linked to drivers’ use of phone while driving.
Mr David Mendie, the Sector Commander, told NAN in Makurdi that the command had carried out adequate sensitisation to educate road users on the danger of using a phone while driving.
“Drivers usually guilty of using telephones while driving are mostly young people, but we have not recorded any accident because of that,’’ he said.
Mendie said that it was “very wrong’’ to use telephone while driving, noting that it can cause distraction to the driver and other road users that can lead to a crash.
He further disclosed that the FRSC was already collaborating with telecommunication network service providers on ways to address the abuse.
Mrs Vera Obe, the Manager, MTN Makurdi Connect, said that the use of cell phones while driving was an individual problem.
“It has to do with individual mindsets, but the company will find ways of looking into the matter for possible intervention,’’ she said.
Obe said that it was wrong for telephone users to make use of cell phones while driving and appealed to those on the wheels to always park before making calls, sending text messages or chatting.