Nowadays cell phone companies are being blamed for wrongly using the young people. By offering different packages, they are now misusing the young generation for the sake of their business interest.
Different quarters allege that packages like overnight free talk time, free Short Message Service (SMS) along with attractive sets are enough to derail the young generation as there is hardly any correlation between their spending habit in this respect and their earning, if any.
Rimi (not her real name) was such an example. When she started talking with an unknown boy over her cell, she did not know that this would turn her life upside down. She used to talk the entire night on the phone using one of the popular packages of a leading cell phone company. But Rimi was stuck on the boy and within a few days, she got crazy to marry him. As a teenager she was too sentimental to admit her mistake, so nothing could move her from her decision.
Unfortunately, after marriage, she came to realise her mistake. But it was too late to get back her days when she used to enjoy her days like a free bird and get all kinds of pleasures from her associations-friends, parents and relatives.
While narrating this sad story to this scribe, Rakhi, one of the friends of Rimi, said that now her friend could not manage money for her study and avoid talking with her friends about her husband and her life. Nowadays, she has turned silent.
Rakhi, a student of Dhaka Eden College, said cell phones have made Rimi as well as others in her class crazy. There has been extensive misuse of cell phones and many of her friends do not take off the set from the ear till the free time ends in the morning. Abusive words through SMS, threat, missed calls to unknown numbers etc are very common complaints since these kinds of packages were introduced.
In Rakhi's class, 90 per cent students have cell phones and 80 per of them have more than one SIM.
When talking to a cross-section of people, many agreed that this new technology has brought about a revolution in the telecommunication and has become the need of the time. But it has left only a negative impact on the people's behaviour and attitudes.
From social point of view, Chairman of Sociology Department Professor Quamrul Ahsan Chowdhury said the packages being offered by the cell phone companies for the young generation encourage them to gossip, misuse time, become less attentive to their studies and even goad them into criminal activities.
Although the chairman felt that the need for cell phones is tremendous in the present world context, he however laid importance on controlling its operators with regulations considering the acute level of poverty and rate of illiteracy in the country.
He said that it was the duty of the government to control the behaviour of business and added that if the government is sincere like checking copying in exams, it can also guide the telecommunication sector in a positive manner and save the new generation from moral degeneration.
In the present context, the cell phones have become foremost tools to carry out criminal activities like threatening people and abusing message. It is learnt that the teenager Ataur Rahman Sunny who was said to be the mastermind of the nationwide serial bombings had several SIMs. Realising its massive negative use, the government is also now contemplating promulgation of an ordinance to tap telephonic conversation. Many educational institutions including private university colleges have banned cell phones on the campuses.
Like the suggestion proposed by the Chairman of the Sociology Department to maintain the identity of all SIM holders strictly, many however proposed to bring discipline in the cell phone business.
Mohammad Hafizur Rahman Khan, Associate Professor of Psychology Department of Dhaka City College said, restricting the use of the cell phone for below-18 teenagers might also restrain the misuse of phone.
From psychological perspective, he said, the young generation uses the important communication technology as a fashion and a status symbol and added that reflection of this trend is found in the family as well as on the street and in associations.
He said as our students are dependent on the family, these packages make the boys and girls get crazy for cell phones and create pressure on the guardians. They often get involved in wrongdoing to satisfy their illegitimate desires.
Hafizur Rahman said making this important mode of communication a fashion or status symbol is not desirable for a healthy future generation.
But from the business perspective, Iftekhar Enayetullah, an expert on ISO 14001, gave a different view. He said that standardisation in business could make the operators responsive to the need of the country.
He said that when the corporate houses like cell phone companies could be made to comply with the international standards like ISO, they would also have to meet social compliance for the overall benefit of the country.
And this has to be done, as the government is committed to ensure EMS brought poverty reduction strategy.