By Nomzamo Gwebu
I remember that day vividly, coming from school joyously with good news to tell my mother. The school had informed us that we were now allowed to bring smartphones and computers to school.
I did not know that my mother would curtly douse my excitement. She told me that a smartphone was not a priority since she had gone through school without one.
Most of my peers already had smartphones but my parents were not keen on getting one for me. I had hoped that since the school was encouraging student to get smartphones, this was a good opportunity to change my parents’ attitude.
My hopes were dashed.
I wanted a smart phone. I always dreamt of holding one in my hands. I could imagine the feeling of talking with my friends, watching videos and listening to my favorite tunes. I imagined taking pictures of my friends and setting them as wallpapers and profile pictures. I always told myself that if ever I get a smartphone, I will take as many pictures as possible.
After a month of nagging my parents, no action was taken. I was distraught. I realized that if I did not take action, I would never get a smartphone.
I got a part-time job. I worked hard because my aim was to buy a smartphone. When I got paid, I told my mom that I had raised some money but it was not enough to buy a smartphone. My mom was moved by my efforts and she mobilized additional funds to enable me to get a phone.
I bought myself a Samsung. It was black in color. I did not sleep a wink that day. I was very excited about my new phone and couldn’t wait to go to school with it.
My first day at school with the new smartphone was electric. I ran to school early to take pictures with my friends and to share videos and music. For some days I had challenges operating the smartphone. I could not recharge airtime so I sought help from my friends. After a few days I had mastered using the phone.
My smartphone became my hobby. I spent most of my time listening to music. I would plug in my headphones and block everyone out. I did not want to hear anyone or talk to anyone. During weekends I would go to the mountain to get better network connection. Network at home was poor those days.
Having a phone changed me drastically. I embraced a new lifestyle, a South African style. I wanted to learn how to dance and dress like the South Africans. I gradually lost my grandfather’s stories in my memory. The Social interaction with my siblings and my parents faded into history. All my attention shifted to my new smartphone.
My family was troubled by these changes. They realized that there was something that was affecting me. Perhaps like a cancer there was a sickness that is eating me slowly. That cancer was the technology entering my system. It was slowly changing my life.
After a few months with the smartphone I got accustomed to it and started to get back to engaging my family and friends again.
The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.
The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres said “Digital technologies sustain life, work, health and learning for billions of people. Yet 3.7 billion people — nearly half the world’s population — remain unconnected to the Internet; and of these, the majority are women.”
CCCD strengthens women and girls’ capacity in the use of digital technologies so that they are able to produce and consume relevant information and knowledge, with the view of supporting their active participation in diverse social and policy processes, including decision-making on issues that affect their lives at different levels, particularly by amplifying their voices and providing platforms for collaborative content production and sharing.