Posts Tagged ‘mxit’

According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), 26 percent of the world’s population is illiterate and 98 percent of these people live in developing countries. Africa as a continent that has a literacy rate of less than 60 percent.

MXit as of a week ago launched Africa’s first MBook in order to help with the decreasing illiteracy and to encourage literacy and a passion of reading amongst the youth internationally.

mxit image

MXit’s (pronounced “mix it”) first MBook is Emily and the Battle of the Veil, a fantasy novel based on a 13-year old South African girl, written by Karen Brooks.

The novel can be downloaded for ZAR13.50, which is far more reasonable than buying traditional books and can be read at the user’s own time and convenience on the mobile phone.

In 2004 Mxit started off as a free instant messaging software application developed in South Africa (SA), that runs on GPRS/3G mobile phones and on PCs. It allows the user to send and receive smses or multimedia messages to and from other users, as well as chat rooms.

mxit-iphone

MXit opens doors

I believe this initiative (of introducing the Mbook) is breaking the status quo of the traditional publishing industry, as well as giving young readers and aspiring writers an opportunity to read new literature or showcase their work in a digital format. Furthermore MBook is environmentally friend, no trees are being cut down.

The launch of MXit’s MBook follows the launch of an online South African maths initiative called Imfundo Yami Imfundo Yethu (My education is our education). This joint effort by Nokia South Africa, MXit, a Finnish company and SA’s Department of Education is piloting a new education project that delivers mathematics tutorials to Grade 10 learners via MXit. They will receive 15 questions on the MXit channel and tackle problems to find mathematical solutions. MXit will be like an affordable and instant tutor.

mxit userSteve Vosloo, a Communication and Analytical Skills Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation in his thought leader blog posted that he believes that “this time- and space-shifting effect means that learners, and higher education students, can have classroom-like experiences when it suits them, not just during school hours when one educator is shared with 30 or 40 other learners. For many young people in South Africa, this might be the only opportunity they have to access qualified educators”.

This just shows that social networks can educate and bring people together. Mxit along with it’s initiatives will draw the young and perhaps old into reading again. Will this open other social networking and media doors. I trully hope so because many are migrating to mobile media and such initiatives can benefit communities. I also think media houses can learn a thing or two from Mxit and start developing mobile media strategies that will engage with both the young and old.

Students in SA can access Maths on MXit via MXit on 079 992 3960. Futureye signing out.

Post last updated and corrected on 19th October 2009.

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I remember when we were growing up, we’d play with tin cans, connect them with a string and pretend they were phones.Today mobile phones, better known as cellphones in South Africa (SA), have become ubiquitous everywhere you go, even children as young as five years old have their own cellphones (this does not only happen in SA only but in many other countries).A company in England is even targeting toddlers with a phone designed in the shape of a teddy bear. And this creates more of an “addiction” from a young age.

According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), three-quarters of Australian children aged 12 to 14 own a cellphone but by the time they are 15 that number surges to 90 per cent. In Spain a media report recently spoke of a case where two children, age 12 and 13, were admitted into a mental health institution.

The ACMA concluded by saying that these children could not carry out normal activities without their cellphones, they tend to lie to their parents and relatives to get money to spend on their phones.

In Japan, the government is currently asking phone manufacturers to develop phones that are only used for talking. This is because Japanese youngsters are committing cyberspace crimes and spending hours exchanging mobile e-mails. Most phones in Japan offer high-speed Internet access.Things have gone so bad that the government is starting a program where they are warning parents and schools to limit their use among children.

Dr Jose Martinez-Raga, an expert in addictions, said children who developed a dependency on cellphones, like those who over-used video games, often became irritable, withdrawn and antisocial, and their school performance deteriorates. But children are not the only ones having addiction issues.

cellphone addiction

The Flip side

On the other side of the coin, most parents would say knowing where their children are is an advantage because they can just pick the phone and contact them.

The parents believe that the safety and security of their children is ensured by the cellphone. Their other reason perhaps may be that a cellphone gives children independence.

I’m sure this is great for mobile corporations in terms of sales but this trend has the potential to give brain cancer  because according to Research from the World Health Organisation and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency states that cellphones link to brain tumors.

This research center further says that thinner skulls and smaller brains put children at a greater risk.

I do think cellphones are important because most people have interaction through internet access and there’s a majority of people in the developing countries can not afford PCs. Cellphones are an affordable way to stay in touch with relatives, check friends on social network systems etc. Although cellphones are a great communication tool, it is creating major disorders, one of them being cellphone addiction.

The question I want to pose is, are certain companies thinking about what the consequences of ‘getting-them-while-they’re-young’ model is causing? I think there signals of distress out there and cellphones could be a danger in the future. Look at the video entitled “Why are mobile phones addictive“, to avoid cellphone addiction.  Futureye signing off.

Related links on mobile phone addiction:

Last updated and correction made on 27th May 2009.