The downside of mobile technologies

We like to praise the availability of mobile technologies in African countries and to talk about the opportunities that emerged from the introduction of mobile phones. However, it is important to acknowledge that where there is much light, the shadow is deep. When we were in Africa last year to work on the UZI Africa project, we already encountered stories, where the mobile phone was responsible for family conflicts. For example somebody told us how a guy thought that his wife was cheating on him, because she was regularly calling a phone number he didn’t know.

Crystal Watley who lives in Kenya and works for Voices of Africa recently wrote about the negative consequences for family and social relationships at the MobileActive discussion group:

  1. Cell phones make it easier to cheat on your spouse.
  2. Cell phones GIVE away the secrets of the spouses that were already cheating thus causing household tension and domestic violence.
  3. African men tend to be very jealous and often use mobile phones as a way to control their women monitoring every message and call.
  4. Violence and jealousy is also caused between those who own phones and those who do not. Or between those with different model phones. Theft is rampant.

Surely this cannot be generalized, but it is important to keep the possibility of negative side effects in mind when designing technologies for the African market. Maybe technology can even be turned into a tool that helps to avoid and eventually eliminate such conflicts?

(Thanks to Crystal for sharing this.)

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The downside of mobile technologies
was published on 14.04.2009 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under sub saharan africa
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