By Rakhshinda Shakir
Mobile phones are no doubt one of the greatest inventions. The indispensability of cell phone cannot be denied in the modern world. It brings us numerous benefits such as, the convenience of being able to communicate to anyone from any place at any time, bringing the internet world at our fingertips and many more. In fact, the cell phone has turned from a technological tool into a social tool.
The importance of mobile phones in its own place but there are also many negative effects of mobile phones which need our attention. The most significant among them is its social cost. An overwhelming majority of our youth is using cell phones with more than one SIM. Living in a sexually frustrated and conservative society, our youth uses mobile phones for sexual gratification. Sexting—sending sexual texts and photos has becomes a very common trend among teenagers. Besides, through internet, children are likely to visit sites which are banned for them. The cell phones, thus, influence the social and psychological developments of the children. Moreover, the cell phones carry privacy risks with it, such as leaking private messages, private pictures and security threats in case mobile is lost or checked by a third party.
The negative effects of cell phones are significantly high in those societies where they are newly introduced and where the social fabric is in transition. The remote district of KP, Chitral, and Ghizer district in Gilgit-Baltistan are rapidly witnessing the waves of modernization. A significant portion of youth is using mobile phones, facebook, whatsApp and twitter. Unfortunately, a considerable number of incidents have happened which suggest that the technology is being misused.
Access to mobile phone has made communication process among the opposite sex more convenient. Teenagers use cell phone for sexting and making relationships with the opposite sex. Some people may find it suitable for youth to choose compatible partners. However, this brings youth in conflict with centuries old traditions eventually frustrating them. Occasionally, this may lead to stigmatization, especially for girls, and is believed to be one of the many contributing factors towards suicide in Chitral and Ghizer districts. Moreover, many rogue elements among young people deceive innocent girls with the fake promise of marriages using them as objects for time pass.
The most unfortunate and dangerous trend, however, is the unauthorized call recoding of girls by boys and men. Many incidents have occurred where recorded calls are believed to be used to blackmail girls. In a number of incidents marriages have been dissolved in the pretext of telephonic affairs. Similarly, in a number of cases married women have eloped with men after contacting on mobile phones, creating frustration for the families.
Recording girls’ calls and using it to blackmail or leaking it is a highly shameful and criminal act. A number of recorded calls have been leaked where parties are found engaged in culturally vulgar communications or having phone sex. The stigma and frustration would be beyond imagination both for the girl and her family. Call recoding, even if done with the permission of girls, is wrong as it could be leaked in case cell phone is lost or sold. Besides, the deleted contents in cell phone can easily be restored with data recovery software. The leaking and ultimately circulation of girls’ pictures and recorded calls in extremely conservative cultures like ours is, indeed, a serious crime. This demands the attention of all stakeholders.
To avoid the abuse of cell phones, some people suggest parental checks on teenagers. However, it is unclear as how much it could be effective to prevent the misuse of cell phone by acting as watchdogs on youth. In fact, it is neither possible nor desirable due to the indispensability of cell phones in the contemporary world. Nonetheless, we can take a number of measures. First, we need to promote ethical standards especially among our sons as call recoding is not just unethical, it is also a serious crime. Second, the youth and especially females should be educated about the repercussions of cell phone abuse as they become the primary victims. Furthermore, gaps among the parents and children should be replaced with trust so that children could share their issues with them. Finally, our patriarchal norms should be somewhat relaxed and we should revisit our attitudes which stigmatize women for their minor mistakes forgiving crook males for their crimes. If our norms stop stigmatizing women, then no wicked male can blackmail them by recording their voices or using their pictures. Girls fear it, boys know it. So, the circle of exploitation continues.
“Behind the miseries of women, somehow, a man is involved.”