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Hashim Yussuf Amao

God is amazing. Truly, He is. One of His psychological programming in children is their instinctive brain, that processes new information, sometimes, faster than adults'. A typical kid's brain can process fastly, wide-ranging meanings from just a few pieces of information it had read, heard or watched.

ScienceNewsForStudents, a fact-driven and sciential organization posited that Young children and teens use both sides of their brain to process and understand information. But as they approach adulthood, the brain only uses the left side for this task. One among reasons behind this stance is that children are devoted to learning about the world, instead of just focusing on getting things accomplished like adults. Accomplishment and life races had taken a fractional part of adult's mind, unlike children, whose mind, Philosopher John Locke described as "a blank slate". Blank state that is clean and broad enough to receive, process and save informations it received for long time purpose.

"Catch Them Young", an initiative by many leading organizations like StepUp Nigeria, Guide Star among others is poignant to how sensitive and naive kids minds are; how important it is to nurture them early. Hence, in a country of ours, where kids have direct and indirect access to the internet: a double-edged sword that can shield or slit them, it has become imperative to call to attention, the many harms internet has done to these gullible kids, and how to save them from impending harms.

Ours is a country where Social Media personalities, influencers, celebrities are steeping deep in vulgar, immoral and uncouth words, all for the purpose of clout chase, attention and followership. "Ti mo ba mu แบน, ma ni ki o*o แบน, ko lแบน pแป." (If I catch you, I'll make your female genital glue to each other) were the salacious words from the mouth of a very small boy who I overheard from my stand. Immediately, my memory drew to an Instagram personality - Oba Solomoni - a supposed upright man who rather shamelessly spit offensive, vulgar and lecherous words, without care for whose bull is castrated. His is not the most irking, his ilks, many of whom should be a model to watching young ones, rather chose to be behemoths of indecency. After all, it's a no sane clime and almost everything here goes unchecked. What, then, would trigger their fear or make them feel sombre?

"Yahoo ni gbogbowa" (We are all fraudsters), sang another young boy whose age shouldn't exceed six. On the top of his voice, he left the words on repeat till I got infuriated and left my position to correct and warned him of the dangers of saying such. Well, the fault aren't these kids'; such is just the power of their psychological programming: their tender mind receive and save quickly, even while they have no knowledge of what their utterances denote. Internet has fast passed indecent words down these innocent children. No thanks to parents who grant them access to the internet at a very tender age, or make them use their gadgets without parental guidance.

An average Nigerian parent would want to satisfy the unending requests of his/her child(ren) who seek to make use of the gadgets, especially, when his friend's parents had given theirs to their kids to surf. Mere pressure had led many parents to giving gadgets to kids unduly, and this, has done more bad to these kids than Good. Matter-of-factly, there are parents who watch with eagle eye, the activities of their children on their gadgets or over the internet. However, parents who carelessly use their gadget or save contents which are not-too-fit for kids on their gadgets are enjoined to be extra cautious.

On account of negative effects of the internet, many children have become victims of cyber bully which left emotional woes in them. Many picked up bad acts that have now turned addiction because they were quick to be exposed to the internet. The time factor has affected a whole lot in them, as those who got addicted to internet find it hardly to concentrate on their studies - hence their low academic performance.

It may be said, that many adults reading this would agree that, at a point in time, they have perpetrated certain acts they probably might not have done or quick to know about, were it not for their (early) exposure to the internet. Luckily, if adults can manage to control themselves, how worst would it be for children, in whose mental dictionary, lacks "self-control".

Bringing this to a close, parents should manage to create an awareness of how good the internet is to the children. Access to beneficial things like Google search could be granted. However, at the abuse of it, a need to deny them access to internet or gadgets should be done, constructively. Children are likely to feel bad about the turn down, but an open talk about it should be an option, not harshness - except in a situation where it's the last resort. Sometimes, children only need to know the consequences of certain actions, they would restrain themselves. Be friendly while warning them of the many harms of early exposure or addiction to the internet. But then, random engagements with them, especially on current/societal affairs that's fit for their age should be considered, so they won't lag behind totally or find it strange when their mates talk about current or societal affairs.

In an era where children easily look up to singers, dancers and entertainment personalities as mentors, drastic actions must be put in place to avoid early exposure to internet, as this would most likely dot their blank mind or derail them from the right path. Social Media Intelligence (SMI) is required, even of adults before the use of internet, let alone children.

Hashim Yussuf Amao, Ibadan
hashimlegalbard@gmail.com

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Hashim Yussuf Amao

Hashim Yussuf Amao

Born and bred in Ibadan, Hashim Yussuf Amao is a Graduate of University of Ilorin. He tweets via: @LegalBard