iPads and Speech Impediment
Christmas is around the corner and Kojo, a five year-old might have three iPads from loving members of the family. His grandparents in Ghana might buy one online and send it to their son’s address in Toulouse, France.
Kojo’s parents might gift-wrap the latest iPad not knowing about the grandparents’ gift and his aunt might send one from wherever she is. She is tourist junkie and goes wherever she pleases.
All this love might hurt Kojo five years from now because his eyes will be underdeveloped, since he is perpetually glued to the iPad monitor.
His parents do not mind because it keeps him quiet while they press the blender to make their smoothie or check their Facebook or Twitter status.
Better still, his mother might be working on the PowerPoint presentation for the shareholders’ meeting at work.
Kids' Communication Skills
Kojo has his iPad so chances of him being an effective public speaker are very slim. His toy lulls him to sleep while his teddy bear collection sulks in a big IKEA blue bin. It is the first thing he touches in the morning.
He quickly goes to the bathroom and gets ready for school. He munches his cereal while romancing the iPad. The iPad discourages eye contact.
When relatives come to see the darling little boy, he just waves ‘Hi’ and his parents proudly explain his addiction to the device.
It is also interesting to see two or three kids ‘playing.’ All of them might be glued to their iPads and not talking to each other.
Kojo’s attachment to his electronic device isolate him from the world because human beings ‘talk’ with their eyes.
Point of correction! All living things communicate with their eyes. We are constantly told not to show fear when we see a dog because it might misinterpret that as animosity, bark fiercely or attack.
There are cultures where women look down when their husbands talk to them. That is bad news for such women when they go to corporate Europe or North America because it might be interpreted as lack of confidence.
People exchange blows because, ‘He gave me a dirty look.’ Eyes can mean disrespect or attitude. I might be accused of having an attitude without opening my mouth. Madea, the character in most Tyler Perry films does not tolerate kids rolling their eyes at her.
Eyes can also mean love or the possibility of it. People flirt with their eyes. ‘I thought you don’t love me anymore.’ The eyes are one of the reasons lovers come to that conclusion.
Eyes can be a dead away when someone is lying. Children in Africa know when their mothers are angry. It is even worse when mothers put their hands on their hips. Children definitely know that the game is up.
Speaking in Public
Kojo is a possible client for Toastmasters International because they will teach him how to work like a torch which means, making eye contact with the audience and also remember where he is on his presentation.
It is highly unlikely that it will be a printed presentation. It is either on his iPad, computer or some electronic device. Papers used to be printed and included in conference packs for delegates.
E-mail is the preferred means of distribution now, to save trees from being felled to make paper. E-mail also reduces cost on staff, photo-copying and printing conference speeches.
Here is a hypothetical scenario. Kojo is a brilliant scientist and computer engineer from two top universities in Bengaluru (Bangalore, India). He has just developed a formula that will stop people from being hungry.
Farmers, food chains, hamburger joints and car manufacturers are up in arms. They will go out of business if the world stops eating.
Kojo’s company sends him to Geneva to defend his invention but he fails dismally because first of all, there are too many people in the conference hall, their hostile eyes glued on him.
He is definitely a Toastmasters candidate.
Eyes are not the only means of communication. The most obvious one is speech. Part of growing up is the ability to speak coherently at play and at home.
Electronic devices definitely bring the world to a child’s fingertips but what are the consequences if such devices are the only means of interacting with the world?
Watching kids play cricket or soccer with rudimentary bats or soccer balls made from rags is very informative. The opposition team has a strategy. They shout instructions at each other. Both teams have a common goal, to score.
Can we talk things over? It means settling a misunderstanding. That is what human beings do. They use what nature gave them. Their mouth. Speech is fundamental in the socialization of a child, or an animal.
We usually say the motto of the jungle is survival of the fittest. Lions and antelopes train their kids about the law of the land. They get their skills from their parents. Animals have their own languages although humans think they don’t.
Over reliance on electronic devices to bring up children tempers with their ability to function in the broader world.
The elimination of the body, especially the eyes and the mouth as objects of talking to each other puts what we call learning or education in jeopardy.
I prefer ‘talking to each other’ instead of communication. Language has always been exclusionary. Ordinary people know what talking means, and might not know what communication is. Words are always used to cut off people, to show who is educated who is not.
They call it ‘grammar’ in Nigerian films. Using big words that nobody understands can result in fist fights.
The iPad and other electronic devices have isolated a huge section of humanity. Older people. What is the point of getting your grandfather a mobile phone if you do not have time to show him how to add his friends and church members to his CONTACTS?
Being busy on your phone 24 hours also means that you cannot show him how to open and write text messages. We will not dwell on that because nobody cares really. They are old. They are of no use to the world right?
Youth Effectiveness in Workplaces
Electronic devices such as the iPad may be the best news since sliced bread, but they might be Kojo’s downfall in corporate Canada.
Kojo is one of the young men who believe that the ability to read and write is old school, make that ancient school. Unfortunately his boss still wants him to prepare sales presentations to clients or board members.
His boss expects his presentations to exude confidence, because some members of the audience will not be listening to him. They will be judging body movements, eye contact and appropriate sense of humor.
Kojo’s boss is also under an obligation to sit down with him and do a performance appraisal, and that definitely includes how he relates to co-workers.
That will affect his appraisal negatively if he spend his free time on Twitter and Facebook or checking his pins on Pin Interest.
The iPad and family cohorts therefore are like a welder. They are a blow torch to break the learning chain to produce individuals that can speak, read and write effectively.