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Africa’s youth are behind smartphones boom

Africa’s youth are behind smartphones boom

CONRAD ONYANGO, BIRD STORY AGENCY TWO industry reports project the rising uptake of smartphones in Africa over the next three years, driven by the growth of youthful users and an influx in affordable device financing plans, as mobile phones become integral in business and society. Mobile phones kept people and businesses connected when social restrictions were introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19. Smartphones enabled remote working, learning and other aspects of life to continue with minimal disruptions - and are increasingly seen as a must-have tool for life on the continent in the 21st Century. Over the past decade,…
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How smartphones could help improve child health in Malawi

How smartphones could help improve child health in Malawi

GRIPHIN BAXTER CHIRAMBOADAMSON S. MUULABO ANDERSSONCIARA HEAVINJOHN O'DONOGHUEMATTHEW THOMPSONYVONNE O'CONNOR MANY low- and middle-income countries, such as Malawi, continue to experience high child mortality rates. Most of these deaths are caused by preventable and treatable diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia. But managing these conditions is a challenge in Malawi, where around 83% of the population lives in rural areas where access to appropriate health facilities is difficult. To identify sick children and ensure they get treatment close to home the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF introduced a community case management protocol in 2008. It’s mostly managed by…
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Your smartphone is not making you dumber — digital tech can enhance our cognitive abilities

Your smartphone is not making you dumber — digital tech can enhance our cognitive abilities

DIGITAL technology is ubiquitous. We have been increasingly reliant on smartphones, tablets and computers over the past 20 years, and this trend has been accelerating due to the pandemic. Conventional wisdom tells us that over-reliance on technology may take away from our ability to remember, pay attention and exercise self-control. Indeed, these are important cognitive skills. However, fears that technology would supplant cognition may not be well founded. Technology alters society Socrates, considered by many to be the father of philosophy, was deeply worried about how the technology of writing would affect society. Since the oral tradition of delivering speeches…
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The ‘privacy by design’ approach for mobile apps: why it’s not enough

The ‘privacy by design’ approach for mobile apps: why it’s not enough

THE mobile apps installed on our smartphones are one of the biggest threats to our digital privacy. They are capable of collecting vast amounts of personal data, often highly sensitive. DUSTY-LEE DONNELLY, Lecturer in Law & Advocate, High Court of South Africa, University of KwaZulu-Natal The consent model on which privacy laws are based doesn’t work. App users remain concerned about privacy, as a recent survey shows, but they still aren’t very good at protecting it. They may lack the technical know-how or the time to review privacy terms, or they may lack the willpower to resist the lure of…
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Your phone and your brain – what we know so far

Your phone and your brain – what we know so far

A defining characteristic of the way many people live today is persistent online connectedness. Since the introduction of smartphones about 15 years ago, the rapid and broad adoption of these devices has had an impact on people’s behaviour at all hours of the day. Forecasts suggest that the number of smartphone connections in sub-Saharan Africa will reach 678 million by the end of 2025, representing an adoption rate of 65%. DANIEL B. LE ROUX, Senior Lecturer, Stellenbosch University Many people check their phones when they wake up, use them while travelling to work and constantly keep an eye on them…
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We live in our smartphones, anthropologists say

We live in our smartphones, anthropologists say

Umberto Bacchi ACCORDING to the saying, there's no place like home. But a group of anthropologists argue that smartphones have become so fundamental to human life, they are like places people live rather than mere tools of communication. The researchers at University College London (UCL) say smartphone users are like "human snails carrying our homes in our pocket" in a study analysing use of the devices across Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. "You have one room for watching entertainment, another one for socializing with your friends, another one for organizing your life," Daniel Miller, the study's lead author, told the Thomson Reuters…
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Insights from Morocco into how smartphones support migration

Insights from Morocco into how smartphones support migration

MOHA ENNAJI, Professor, Université Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah FOR undocumented migrants and refugees travelling to new countries, accurate information is vital. Because of this, smartphones – mobile phones that perform many of the functions of a computer, like accessing the internet – have become an important tool. They give migrants access to applications such as Google Maps, WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter. These can provide them with information from social media and close contacts. In a recent study, my colleague Filippo Bignami and I investigated the role of smartphones in irregular migration. We wanted to know how they helped migrants reach…
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