Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mixing it up on MXit!

So it seems this is my week for stories about kids.
Interestingly enough, my aunt came over to supper last night with her two kiddiewinkles - or rather "The Teenagers" as my Little One calls them. The evening was an education indeed as I got a first hand, close-up view of youngsters hooked on MXit. There they were, two blonde spaced-out zombies with cellphones seemingly surgically attached to their hands as they clicked away furiously, networking with people obviously a whole lot cooler than the company in their presence. Between messages their eyes flicked furtively around as they waited super-anxiously for a reply - almost like an addict anticipating the next hit.It was unending, I tell you. Even during supper those darn phones were hidden on laps under the table as they frantically continued with their hot-and-happening socialising between speedy mouthfuls of roast chicken and veg.
Thus was my first encounter with the MXit fixated teen. And then I arrived at the office and immediately got busy with the latest missing kid story - a 14-year-old school girl who disappeared from Parktown Girls on Monday morning and was believed to have been picked up by a dodgy man/group/cult follower she had met on ... yes, life is indeed chock full of coincidences ... MXit.
Her dad was frantic. The school principal was calm yet firm about the fact that she needed to warn parents that their teenagers are often living double lives through MXit. She had called a parents' meeting earlier in the week to address this very issue and had encountered snarling moms and dads annoyed by what they saw as her attempts to tell them what to do with their kids.
I called a woman who does workshops and presentations on the real-life challenges that parents and teenagers need to be focussing on, and how to go about it. She too had issues with MXit. Young thrill-seekers hooking up with paedophiles and sexual predators or youngsters selling pics of their naked wobbly bits were not the main worry, she said. The issue is that youngsters are truly hooked on the phenomenon and the constant texting leads to concentration problems and poor study habits. Over-tiredness is another factor as even kids who want to go to sleep are drawn into chatting with their mates until the early hours. And parents have no clue.
Her advice? Forget privacy issues and lay down the law. Take control of the kids' phones, make rules, place limits and check from time to time to see what kind of communication is going down on the instrument - not in a snoopy kind of way, but as a kind and caring guardian wanting to ensure safety.
Technology is here to stay and the world has to deal with it. Little Nabeela Omar is still missing and her parents are still frantic. The SMS responses to my story that made it into the evening edition have gone through the roof. Readers are praying for the child and calling for a MXit ban.
I am tired.
I shall now head off to watch "Babe" on dvd with Little One and enjoy the happiness of being together at the end of our day and appreciate our many, many blessings.
Tonight I will not be the only one to utter a prayer for Nabeela Omar and her family.
Tomorrow I will write about her again...


  1. My knucklehead has rules.
    His phone and his contract is owned and insured by me- so I have the right to view his phone's content, just like my boss has with my company email.
    He was limited- during school- to mxit only between 7pm & 10pm, and under no circumstances may he mxit in company.

    I think mxit is not the problem. Parenting is.

  2. For sure!!! It's not mxit that's to blame at all.