There are about 18 million people in Uganda owning mobile phones; half of that number is using smartphones or feature phones which have access to internet.This on the positive side has eased the way people communicate. Smartphones have made life simpler and cheap to move information.
However to a certain extent people have abused the existence of these gadgets especially those that are internet enabled. We look at a number of ways people are misusing mobile phones in Uganda.
Underutilization of phone features
This is a common thing that happens to people with smartphones. For example it is usual to find someone with a smartphone that has Google Map App installed asking for directions to a famous restaurant or building. The GPS can be used to locate a lot of stuff but not everyone takes advantage of this.
Cameras can be used for so much more than taking selfies; capturing evidence at crime scenes, phone cameras can replace scanners but people will see a crime happen and not take a photo or pay money for a scanner yet they could use their phone cam.
Storage, if you have no flash you can use your phone but not everyone knows this. High end phones can be used as remote controllers e.g. during PowerPoint presentations but u see people dying with the mouse yet their phone can make it easy.
While the smartphone can do what desktop computers can, it is common to see people going to internet cafes yet they can put data on their phones and access internet.
The Bluetooth can help reduce data costs but now that WhatsApp is the ‘eish’, someone will transfer a file of so many mbs and spend dime yet they could use Bluetooth which is free…if they are in close proximity.
Some people are not just adventurous with their gadgets.
When mobile phones were introduced in the early 1990s, maintaining a mobile phone came at a cost, from airtime to service fees.
Luckily, as competition increased, service fee was removed and servicing a phone became cheaper. As time went on the price to make a call also came down from almost Shs800 a minute in 2000 to Shs3 a second in 2015.
This reduction in the cost of a phone call made it affordable to communicate however some people have abused it by making unnecessary calls sometime talking for hours saying nothing, but just because it’s cheap.
Sometimes phone users use a lot of money to buy voice bundles that they don’t need and because they can make calls they end up making unnecessary and disturbing calls. This often time piles a lot of pressure on the phone user due to the bills involved.
This however can be avoided if one learns to regulate her or himself and end the habit of making unwanted calls for the sake of it or because they bought a negligible voice bundle. The burden has doubed with the emergence of data bundles.
Watching Explicit Materials
Before mobile internet become so common, one would only access explicit materials like pornography from video libraries, internet cafes and other sources. These were easy to regulate.
For example, a child or woman would hardly be given a sex tape or DVDs from a video library, similarly children were not allowed inside internet cafes and couldn’t afford to pay for internet time.
But as internet got onto mobile phones and the mobile phones got cheaper, plus the unregulated internet content, it has become easy to access pornographic content online, and on phone.
Today explicit material can be downloaded into the hands of any willing consumer then the same hands can share it on social media notably WhatsApp and other internet based messengers with ease.
These explicit material can have negative impact on one’s life. It can be an addiction and negatively affect your sex life.
Recording sex videos
We are in an era of smartphones, phones which can practically and pretty much do anything. Phone makers have moved from making phones for only placing a call to phones so smart they can monitor your health.
These are privileges that can improve humanity yet people tend to prefer using these handsets things that don’t necessary add value to life. These include homemade sex videos and audio recordings.
When you look at the local trending sex videos, you will realize that they were recorded using phones. Unfortunately people who distribute this content don’t manage it well it ends in hands of children.
Recently the ministry of ICT and National Information Technology Authority (NITA-Uganda) launched an online platform where people can report people distributing child pornography.
This was aimed at protecting children from accessing porn or being filmed by adults, which is a form of child abuse. Efforts like this are a result of the rampant filming and distribution of sex materials.
According to NITA-Uganda and Ministry of ICT circulation of pornographic material is a big challenge that needs to be addressed. People are using their phones to record themselves when having sex and later share it.
There is an increasing addiction as people continue to get attached to their smartphones. They are so much attached to their phones to the extent that it is now unhealthy and health risk. Because of this addiction diseases have been born.
Diseases like No-Mo phobia, which is the panic condition caused by the loss of cell phone contact in cell phone addicted individuals and ringxiety or ringtone anxiety, the sensation and false belief that the mobile phone is ringing or vibrating or condition in which a person frequently takes the cell phone to see whether there is any a missed call or messages are common nowadays
Also not having credit, flat battery, loss of phone or no reception etc can bring a panic symptom referred to as NoMo Phobia or No Mobile phobia. The person with ringxiety will always give a priority to his or her cell phone than his personal activities and friends.
Too much time on social media doing nothing
This problem has negative economic implications especially among the employed people. Instead of giving attention to assignments employees are on phone chatting with friends or reading other people’s posts on social media.
This sometimes happens even when their office desktop or laptop has internet connection and can connect to these social media platforms. They just want the phone in their hands. They are ‘phoneholic’.
Economic implications aside, numerous studies have indicated that spending too much time also comes with health costs.
Some of the brain waves that determine the mood and alertness resemble the mobile radiation in frequency. So normal brain functions can be affected in persons using mobile phones continuously.
Another structure that can be affected by heating is the cornea of the eye. Cornea lacks blood supply, so that the heat generated there cannot be removed easily and it may cause premature cataract.
Some users of mobile phones feel several unspecific symptoms during and after the use of mobile phones in the form of burning and tingling sensations, fatigue, sleep disturbances, dizziness, loss of mental concentration etc.
All these effects may be due to the influence of radiation on the biomagnetic field of the body.
Anti-social social media
It is a common scene in night clubs seeing a group of about four girls chatting away with their phones as they sip on their drinks but not talking to each other. People nowadays cannot sustain a conversation as long as they have these smartphones with them.
They are always texting someone away from where they are. Some peers find it rude to sit with people who are chatting up people far away. Social critics have bashed this kind of behavior calling on people to self regulate themselves.[related_posts]
In families, you find a husband and wife buried in a conversation far apart from their living room.
They don’t find time for themselves as a couple because they are so attached to the virtual friends. Sometimes with people who add no value to their lives.
Parents no longer find time to chat with their children because they have to respond to a WhatsApp chat or a friend on Facebook friends needs their attention.
Smartphones are putting boundaries amongst friends, families, workmates and the original life’s setting because of the abuse.
Using smartphone to commit cybercrimes
With the advance in mobile phone technology cyber criminals are finding it easy to do what they do best. Because they are using phones they become hard to track and that way they continue to hurt people.
This is becoming a big concern within people dealing with cyber security. Mobile phone users are also becoming targets for hackers.