For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Jul 19th 2015
28 The EastAfrican OUTLOOK JULY 18-24,2015 e . AF R ICAN Gagdets: Parents need to have some discipline on screen time Some pa≥ents a≥e pe≥petually tuned into thei≥ own devices, ≥esponding to eve≥y ping of thei≥ cellphones By JANE E. BRODY NYT Service when children and teenagers become hooked on electronic media, playing video games or sending texts many hours a day instead of interacting with the real world and the people in it. Digital overload can impair a child’s social, emotional and intellectual growth. This sad conclusion of P many experts in child development has prompted them to suggest ways parents can prevent or rectify the problem before undue damage occurs. “There’s nothing about this that can’t be fixed,” said Catherine Steiner-Adair, a Harvard University-affiliated psychologist. “And the sooner, the better.” As Susan Stiffelman, a family therapist, put it in the Huffington Post, today’s parents are unprepared “to deal with the intense pull and highly addictive nature of what the online world has to offer. As parents, we have an opportunity to guide our kids so that they can learn habits that help them make use of the digital world, without being swallowed whole by it.” Two experts at the Har- vard School of Public Health, Steven Gortmaker and Kaley Skapinsky, offer a free guide, “Outsmarting the Smart Screens: A Parent’s Guide to the Tools That are Here to Help,” as well as healthy activities to pursue to counter the weight gain that can accompany excessive screen time. Young children should not have their own cellphones or televisions in their bedrooms, they say, adding that even with teenagers it is not too late to set reasonable limits on screen time. Steiner-Adair, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, cited two common parental behaviour that can strongly influence a child’s tendency to abuse electronic media. Some parents are per- Children feel neglected when parents turn to their gadgets at home instead of paying attention to them. Picture: File petually tuned into their own devices, responding to every ping of their cellphones and tablets, receiving and sending messages at times that would enrage Miss Manners. Other parents fail to establish and enforce appropriate rules for media engagement by their children. Young children learn by example, often copying the behaviour of adults. I often see youngsters in strollers or on foot with a parent or caretaker who is chatting or texting on a cellphone instead of conversing with the children in their charge. Ms Steiner-Adair said par- ents should think twice before using a mobile device when with their children. She suggests parents check e-mail before the children get up, while they are in school or after they go to bed. One girl among the 1,000 children she interviewed said, “I feel like I’m just boring. I’m boring my dad because he will take any text, any call, any time, even on the ski SOLUTION Susan Stiffelman, realises that attempts to change digital behaviour can meet with resistance. But, she said, it is important to be fearless and decisive, and to avoid negotiations. She and other experts urge parents to establish devicefree times of day, like the first hour after school and the hour before bed. Cellphones and tablets should not be allowed at the dinner table. Stiffelman suggests parents “make time for real-life activities with your kids that let them know that they’re worth your attention. Do things together that nourish your relationship.” lift.” A 4-year-old called her father’s smartphone a “stupid phone.” Jenny S. Radesky, a pae- diatrician at Boston Medical Centre who with two colleagues observed 55 groups of parents and children at fastfood restaurants, noted that 40 of the adults immediately took out mobile devices and used them throughout most of the meal. Often more attention was paid to the devices than to the children. The researchers also found that when parents were absorbed in their own devices, the children were more likely to act out, apparently in an attempt to get their parents’ attention. Ms Steiner-Adair is espe- cially concerned about parental failure to pay full attention to their children “at critical times of the day, like when taking children to and from school. This should be a cell-free zone for everyone — no Bluetooth for parents or devices for the kids. The pick-up from school is a very important transitional time for kids, a time for them to download their day. Parents shouldn’t be saying, ‘Wait a minute, I have to finish this call.’” Likewise, she said, when parents come home from work, “They should walk in the door unplugged and use the first hour they’re home to reconnect with the family. Kids hate the phrase ‘just checking’ that parents frequently use to justify a very rude, infuriating behaviour.” Nor should parents or chil- dren be using devices when the family dines out, the psychologist said. “The art of dining and the connection between delicious food and nourishing conversation is being lost, not just in restaurants but at home as well,” she said. Ms Steiner-Adair attributes a recent 20 per cent increase in accidental injuries seen in paediatric emergency rooms to caretakers’ failure to pay full attention to those they are supposed to be watching, like infants and toddlers in the bathtub or children on the jungle gym. “Your reaction time and at- tention is not the same when you’re texting or talking on a cellphone,” she said. Stiffelman, author of Parenting With Presence” realizes that attempts to change digital behaviour can meet with resistance. But, she said, it is important to be fearless and decisive, and to avoid negotiations. arents are often at fault, directly or indirectly, Af≥ica ma≥kets local domains fo≥ identity BY SCOLA KAMAU Special Correspondent A frican countries are seeking to sell national Internet domains to more individuals, institutions and companies in order to promote local identity and save foreign exchange used in registering the domains outside Africa. Known as country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLDs), the addresses bear two-letters at the end designated for a particular country. During an African domain name system forum held in Kenya last week, more than 30 African countries resolved to lower domain costs, and create awareness to grow the domain name industry in Africa. The five EAC member states, South Africa and Nigeria were among the represented countries. Country domains would end with .ke (Kenya) or preferred individuals names, .ug (Uganda), .rw (Rwanda) and .tz (for Tanzania) and .bi for Burundi instead of the popular international versions like .com, .net., org which are hosted outside Africa. They are popularly known “It is hard to get funding for domain businesses and insurance companies are not willing to insure these businesses.” as a core group of generic top-level domains (GTLDs) consisting of the com, info, net, and org domains. In addition, the domains biz, name, and pro are also considered generic; however, these are designated as restricted, because registrations within them requires proof of eligibility within the guidelines set for each. In 2014, there were 288 million domain registrations across all top level domains. According to a recent report, European ccTLDs were at 67 million in 2014 world wide compared withAfrica at 1.5 million registrations with South Africa registering the highest at 1 million domains. According to the Inter- net Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), East Africa hosts 68,200 names with Kenya leading at 46,200 domain names while Rwanda follows with 7,000 domains. Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have each registered 5,000 domain names. The uptake of ccTLDs in the African region is blamed on lack of awareness among local citizens and high pricing that has seen locals prefer the foreign domains, although a recent change in pricing in East Africa couldboost local domain registration. “African countries should lower the cost of access to country domains, automate the payment process and build on infrastructure to speed up the Internet and have stronger servers to host the domains within the countries,” said Pierre Dandjinou, vice president Africa for Icann. Prices drop Whereas the international domains have been selling at an average of $10 in Africa for the past three years, local domains across the East African region have been averaging at above $20. In Kenya, for instance, the price has come down to $10 this year from $30 last year. Tanzania charges $10 while Rwanda and Uganda charge $25 each. This compares with South Africa’s $4.5, from $20 previously. The price is expected to fall further as competition among registrars increases. “The price has come down drastically this year, to $10 from $30 last year, and we see it falling to below $9 as registrars seek to attract more customers, given the aggressive campaign we are planning to carry through the media,” said Eric Ndung’u communications manager at Kenic, Kenya’s registry in charge of managing the .ke domain GTLDs uptake by African companies has been hindered by the cost which at an initial fee of $500,000 paid to Icann and subject to annual fees. “It is hard to get funding for domain businesses and insurance companies are not willing to insure these businesses,” said Mr Dandjinou. Two years ago, there were only 22 GTLDs globally but the number has grown to 600, with none from Africa. Currently, there are 16 requests being considered: 15 from South Africa and one from Gambia. “We are registering new GTLDs in 2017 and expect to receive more requests from Africa as registries embark on aggressive marketing to host them in Africa. It is not early for African companies and organisations to start planning,” he said.
Jul 12th 2015
Jul 26th 2015