The most outrageous video I have watched in the recent past is that of a pupil of Consolata School spewing a tirade of expletives faster and better than your average Kenyan Member of Parliament.
If you have not watched the videos, I suggest that you don’t.
Kenyans collectively expressed shock, wondering how this could happen. While the rest of you are in shock, I am not shocked one bit.
There are calls for that child to be counselled or even suspended from school, but the main issue we need to discuss today is how we got here in the first place.
How could a child be so rude, so vulgar, so angry, so bitter with the world as to threaten another child with murder?
In an age where parents have delegated their crucial role to social media, gadgets and Google, it is no wonder that the boy is using words and expletives that I only learnt in my early 20s.
Today is Saturday. Walk into any café or social place and you’ll find young parents too busy scrolling on their phones to even pay attention to their children. Today’s parents barely notice when their children walk into the room because they are flirting on Facebook, yelling on Twitter and double-tapping on Instagram. I have always wanted to ask those parents who spend so much time on social media: When do you ever get time to spend time with your children?
Children, it seems, have become a bother to their parents. When parents are not handing their little ones smartphones and those little tablets that play the annoying nursery rhymes for hours on end, they are leaving the children under the care of people they would never entrust their bedroom key to.
Parents are even callous enough to make jokes about how long the school holidays have become (two months), and are calling on the government to reduce the holiday time for children.
The way parents treat children, it is no wonder that the poor boy was so angry and foul-mouthed. That boy should have taken the bullying tirade to his parents or guardian but, because nobody seems to care, he had to use the nearest, easiest outlet: social media.
Which brings me to the issue of parenting and social media. I don’t think children belong in social media, either as users or even as subjects. The sexual predators targeting your children aside, children are far too young to handle or even understand the pressures of social media.
Social media is a cesspool of narcissists, predators, idlers and pretenders, and, trust me, you do not want your child lurking in those corridors. If you do not believe me, look up a documentary titled Being Thirteen by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
From the psychopathic parents who open social media accounts and post updates on behalf of their toddlers to those who overly expose their children, I think it is better to leave the decision to join social media to your children — only when they become adults.
When we are done with vilifying that little boy, let us come back to our senses and realise that his uncouth behaviour is a manifestation of years of total lack of parenting.
It is down to one little thing; parents simply do not like spending time with their children. They do not have time to listen to their children, to mould them, spank them, watch their language, hear about their day, talk about their bullies and what they are up to at school.
And don’t give me that “quality time over quantity time” nonsense; both are important in the sense that they involve time.
If you don’t want us discussing your child’s behaviour on social media, get off the phone, television, newspaper and do what parents do — parent.
Ms Chege is the director of the Innovation Centre at Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications; [email protected]