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WhatsApp and Facebook Conquer Hearts

By: Aisha Braima

Khartoum (SUDANOW) - Mobile phone has wide ranges of use. It can be used for conducting normal telephone connections, entertainment, exchange of information, socialization, learning purposes, following media news, launching debates and so on.
Mobile phone technology is now at the prime. Manufacturers such as the Korean Samsung, Chinese technology Lenovo and Nokia, based in Helsinki, have all of them started producing smart phones.
This revolution of smart phones had paved the way for the emergence of WhatsApp and Facebook social media networks that attracted millions of users around the World.
Facebook, according to reports, is used by 1.39 billion the world-over (AFP Jan 29, 2015).
WhatsApp was founded in 2009 for private use of Yahoo employees and is now used by 700 million people around the world. In Sudan these two sites have conquered the hearts of many Sudanese.
A Sudanese female user of WhatsApp told Sudanow that as she travels with work mates on the bus, they stay connected friends and families all the way to and from their place of employment.
Discussions throughout the journey vary from social affairs to family concerns. ‘’ In the past we used to talk to one another in the car as we travel, but suddenly things changed with many of our colleagues obtaining smart phones and now everybody is busy communicating with his friends and family members,’’ she said.
Another female employee told me she receives thousands of WhatsApp messages every day. But she said she ignores many of the messages because she has no time for them.” Of course if we reply to all those messages, we would find no time to perform our job duties, ‘’ she said.
She conceded that she is now fed up with WhatsApp messages because they kept her unnecessarily busy and even caused her to neglect her religious duties. ’’ I used to spend a lot of time praying while on public transport, and with the coming of WhatsApp, I started to neglect that duty,’’ she said.
“WhatsApp is devilish because it distracts us from our religious duties,’’ she added.

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The Communication Tower, Khartoum
The Communication Tower, Khartoum


While the WhatsApp fever had infected all sectors of the society, the youth category takes the lion’s share in these connections. Some parents this reporter has approached complained that their children were developing an addiction to this technology. “Some of our children are assuming an ‘I don’t care attitude’’, said one father.
Some parents said their children stay late in the night with these connections and, accordingly, fail to get up early for their institutes of learning the next day. Some of these parents complain that their children were growing stiff headed and do not listen to advice any more.
A mother to a number of children said she stopped to hear the noise of her children in the house ‘’because every one of them is busy on WhatsApp’’. “It is saddening that our children no longer listen to us nor respect us,’’ she said.
The sad stories caused by the social media connections continue to come to the surface every now and then. Reports from Kasala in Eastern Sudan recently spoke about the killing of an active member of the ruling National Congress Party because he refused to talk to the killer on some matter”. The man gave me a deaf ear and kept chatting on WhatsApp and this insulted me,’’ the assailant was reported to have told the police after the incident.
The National Telecommunications Corporation (NCC) said, like parents, it was upset by the high number of messages exchanged via these social media connections every day”. Parents are complaining from the overuse of these connections by their children. They blame us for this. But we cannot do anything about it. We just provide the telecommunication connection and have no say in what type of connections take place,’’ said Head of the NCC’s Services Department Abdeen Ahmad Al Haj.
He said according to the most recent estimates 27,796,611 persons enjoy the telephone service in Sudan (Sudan population according to 2008 census stands at 39,154,490 including South Sudan population before the secession which stands at 8,260,490). “We only intervene when phone companies charge higher fees and we also block obscene websites,’’ he added.
Complaint from these social media services ills are not confined to Sudan. There is complaint even in the advanced states of the world.

A woman wrote on her cell phone "Praise be to Allah"
A woman wrote on her cell phone "Praise be to Allah"
Some people have more than one device
Some people have more than one device


A recent report by a British law firm said many divorce cases considered by courts are the result of scandalous information posted on the social media. The law firm said detailed information registered on Facebook was responsible for one third of divorce cases in the UK. It said Facebook registers contain evidences which could be accepted by courts. According to some reports by advocates, the courts in Britain are considering 700 divorce claims related to adultery accusations caused by news posted on the social media.
In the United States a study revealed that many people spend much time on Facebook. It said many people immediately turn to Facebook when the traffic light is on the red. A Fox News report said 74 percent of adult Americans use social media connections, with Facebook taking the lion’s share in this.
The study has blamed the social media for disintegrating families, obesity, depression, anxiety, heart problems and even death.
Back to Sudan, there is wide complaint that youngsters and adults use their mobile phones unwisely. They talk loudly on private matters, a thing that hurts the feelings of the people around them. “This is what is now known as: I don’t care attitude.’’
Osman, an accountant, and Omar Khalid, a journalist, are critical of this reckless attitude. The two of them had cited the phenomenon that some passengers, young and old, pay the bus conductor on public transport and put the change back in their pockets without even checking it, because they are busy with smart phone.
However, a female student from the Sudan Academy of Banking and Financial Sciences is of the view that social media should be confined to useful matters. She said she uses her smart phone to stay connected with her family and relatives here and abroad and there is nothing wrong with that. ” And at home I am always ready to respond to my mother’s demands of help in the domestic affairs, she said, adding that: “The smart phone did not change my conduct towards my family. I really cannot stay without a smart phone,’’ she added, however.
Another Academy student, Mustafa Ali, said he benefits a good deal from smart phone applications. ”They give me access to the internet to search for information related to my education,’’ he said. He said he also watches religious programmes on his smart phone. ”The use of the smart phone is not always harmful. It can give you very useful information,’’ he concludes.

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Psychiatrists and psychologists fear that overuse of smart phones can cause addictions and, consequently, ruin the user’s health.
Psychology Doctor at the International University of Africa Abdallah Mohammad Abdallah said continuous use of smart phones and the internet is unhealthy and can cause what is called autism.
“A person with autism has difficulty using his imagination and cannot communicate and interact with others. So if somebody gets accustomed to the mobile, he may continue talking on the mobile for hours, but will not be able to talk directly to somebody for a short while,’’ he said.
In his book entitled “ Basic Communication’’, Prof Ali Shommo argues that wise use of technology can really benefit the communities.’’ What we need is awareness about the best way for using information technology,’’ he said.
He said the society should cope with modern technology and use it in a fruitful way.

Commenting on the use of smart phones and their impact on the community and social set values and traditions, sociologist Lubna Mamoun of the Sudan Academy for Communication Science, reaffirms that all type of technological advancement effect change in social values of communities.
She believes that modern communication technology which in today's interactions have the upper hand worldwide, are in impacting Sudanese traditions and customs, notwithstanding that the application of smart phones achieve do yield some positive outcomes in man an arenas of the Sudanese inherited customs and traditions.
She pinpoints to the fact that teenagers and students become so tied to these devices building their own virtual world away from family supervision. Most of them because of privacy created by smart phone in absence of family watch are free to watch whatever they want to watch including pornographies which could first be spurred by curiosity then it becomes a habit.
She adds families must be close to teenagers watching them and directing them to the right track until they overcome this critical stage of in their life. Besides family watch Lubna urges government to support research centres conduct studies and follow up development of the phenomenon and come up some applicable scientific solutions.

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Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...

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