Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this statement on a rather interesting but difficult issue which has become part of our very existence as Ghanaians. It needs no gainsaying that, in this present age, the use of mobile phones has really come to stay. In fact the enormous benefits of the phone cannot be underestimated.
Mr Speaker, available statistics indicate that one in every household of an average of four people has unfettered access to mobile phones. On a daily basis, the number of recharge cards that are purchased, contribute significantly to the national purse. The number of calls made per day on the various networks is many. A greater number of (telephone) users also use a bit of data to send WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and other messages (among themselves).
Mr Speaker, one out of every ten persons, on a daily basis, receives at least seven WhatsApp messages. These messages are sometimes forwarded to other platforms and we cannot fail but admit that if you, unfortunately, belong to more than one platform which your “benefactor” also belongs to, you are likely to be inundated with the same message on all such platforms.
Mr Speaker, there is this story told of a young girl whose teacher asked her what she wanted to be in the future. To her utter dismay, the schoolgirl said she wanted to be a mobile phone. When pressured to say why her response was very simple, “That’s the only way I can get the attention I desire from my parents. They have sufficient time to spend talking on the phone, carry it with them to work, to the washroom, on their journey and make sure they always have sufficient credit to make calls or data to browse.
They also do not forget to charge their phones, yet whenever I deserve or require their attention, they do not have time for me. This example may sound weird, but Mr. Speaker, the little girl may not be alone. She may have other friends and school mates who are going through similar experiences in their homes.
Mr Speaker, the post on the Facebook wall of one of my friends on Facebook makes interesting reading:
“Your cell phone has already replaced your watch, camera, calendar, calculator and alarm clock. Please don’t let it replace your friends and family”.
Mr Speaker, it is now very common to sit in a bus, trotro, taxi, train (if it’s available) and see people busily using their mobile phone. The usual courtesies that we used to exchange as Ghanaians are gradually dying. If one is fortunate enough you get a ”hi” or “good morning” that is the end of the conversation.
Mr Speaker, at Conferences, Meetings and Seminars, attendees are mostly glued to their mobile phones either texting or sending a WhatsApp message or reading what has been sent to them.
Mr Speaker, what is worrisome is the way the use of the mobile phone has affected our social relationship as a family unit. These days, it is very common to visit a restaurant, bar or club with your friends, family or colleagues. As you sit down waiting for the food or drinks, it is usual to see the couple, family, friends or group eagerly glued to their mobile phones, either receiving calls or chatting.
Sometimes, throughout the process, apart from the menu that the people may choose together, the rest of the outing time is devoted to use of the mobile phone. Siblings, who sleep in the same room, are also likely to spend more time on the use of mobile phones than engaging in a conversation.
Mr Speaker, whilst acknowledging the enormous benefits of the use of the mobile phone, truth must be told that it has the potential of seriously affecting our cohesion as a people, our family ties and our Socialization.
Mr Speaker, I believe that we can do something positive to curb this emerging trend before we are all overtaken by events. I thank you sincerely for the opportunity.
*This statement was delivered on the Floor of Parliament on Thursday, April 11, 2019.