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Tanzanian Adolescents in the Digital Age of Cell Phones and the Internet: Access, Use and Risks

Hezron Z Onditi*


This study explored cell phones and internet access, use, and potential risks among Tanzanian secondary school adolescents. A total of 778 students aged 14-18 in Form I to Form IV responded to a self-report questionnaire, and a subset of 20 participants participated in semi-structured interviews. Results revealed a remarkable uptake of cell phones and internet technologies among Tanzanian adolescents. In particular, whereas about 50% of the students reported to own cell phones (nearly 60% own simcards), 76% admitted using cell phones at home, and 86% reported to connect to the Internet. Results showed that male and older adolescents seem to have high level of access compared to female and younger adolescents. It was further revealed that nearly 50% of female adolescents who own cell phones reported to hide them from parents. Adolescents reported to use cell phones and the Internet for socializing, academic and entertainment purposes. Despite the benefits, adolescents reported to have experienced online violence and risks including cyberbullying and online sexual exploitation. Results provide important information for developing policy on cell phones, the Internet, and social media use and access among Tanzanian children and youth. In particular, findings suggest for culturally and developmentally appropriate education and intervention programs, which include global, regional, and national partners, and that keep up with the changes in the digital world.


adolescence; cell phones; cyberbullying; online sexual exploitation; ICT

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