Developing Future Technology Skills for Teens 

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Emma Okonji examines the impact of the activities of MTN mPulse Planet, which seeks to develop future technology skills among Nigerian teens and to prepare them for the global digital transformation initiative

Technology is evolving by the day  and technologies of the future that will shape the world are constantly being developed, with focus on technology savvy youths who are the digital natives and millennials that will take technology to the next level.  The present belief is that  virtually everything, including human and devices will be connected to the internet with the support of some sensors that will define human interaction with connected devices.

In order to key into the global vision of technology evolution, mPulse Planet, a technology learning platform that was developed and managed by MTN, has decided to further cascade the global vision down to teenagers.

Running for the second year, the MTN mPulse Planet, which was launched last year in Nigeria with less than 2,000 participants between  the ages of nine  and 15 years, that featured at its maiden edition, had over 5,000 participants during this year’s programme in Lagos. MTN mPulse, according to the organisers, seeks to groom teenagers on future technology and equip them with digital skills that will help them excel in school, hone useful skills and ensure a brighter future for themselves.

Inside MTN mPulse 

The MTN mPulse Planet comes with a wide variety of courses and exam questions to help students excel in school, from Primary 1 to 6, and JSS 1 to 3. It comes with lesson materials from BrainFriend & mAcademy on all subjects which are in line with the Nigerian school curriculum, designed to assist students in their studies.

Tutorial materials are approved by the Federal Ministry of Education and National Education Research and Development Council (NERDC).

In the area of skills development, mPulse Planet has courses for fashion design, medicine for teens interested to become doctors, blogger, engineer, writer, lawyer, data scientist, motivational speaker, among others. Want to learn how to speak other Nigerian and foreign languages, are all embedded in the course outline.

Protecting teens online 

Since the platform exposes teens to the internet and online activities, MTN mPulse Planet took some critical steps to protect teens online in order to deal with peer pressure or bullying.

In order to address concerns about dangers that teens may be exposed to by being on the internet, and to address the issue of tens getting addicted to spending too much time on the phone, while browsing with their mobile phones and other internet connected devices, mPulse Planet developed a mechanism of child monitoring and control when they access the internet with their device by using the Parental Control service. The service also allows parents to schedule child’s device use, and monitor their WhatsApp and SMS messages. The mPulse Parental Control service works on Android, iOS and Windows devices.

Parents can also link up with their children on the mPulse website to enable them view their activities on the site. Parents can also purchase airtime and mPulse data plans for their linked children and get education and games services for them as well. Additionally, they can recommend an education or games service for their child and get notified when they subscribe to it.

Awareness on future technology 

The mPulse Planet exposes teens to future technology like Robotics, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) among others. It also exposes them to variety of games like UNO & Friends, Real Football, Asphalt Nitro, Marvel Avengers, Sudoku, Word Puzzles and lots more are all available. Participants to mPulse Planet also  enjoy short Disney videos, play Disney games and download Disney wallpapers and GIFs.

Some key features of technology of the future like Robotics and Driverless Cars are designed to disrupt exiting technologies and to change human perspective and lifestyles. Robots, for instance, will complement human efforts, while carrying out operations similar to what human could do, even in a more effective way. The driverless cars are built with sensors that have AI that will help cars navigate in busy and less busy roads, without the assistance of a human driver. All these put together are technologies of the future that MTN mPulse seeks to impart in Nigerian teens as they are growing up.

MTN believes that catching the teens young will help in giving them a solid foundation that they could build upon to explore future technology.

 The Impact 

Speaking on the impact of MTN mPulse, the Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mazen Mroue, said:“The plan is to give attention to teens between the ages of 9 years and 14 years, to offer them future technology skills that are designed to expose the teens to digital skills of the future.  Its one year after we launched mPulse and it has been very successful so far, hence we continued with it this year. We had over 5,000 participants this year that attended the the mPulse Planet and they were all exposed to the technology of the future which is Robotics, AR, VR, Online Gaming, among others.”

“Since they are teens, they are exposed to all the future technologies, designed to shape their thinking and prepare them for the future. The idea is to expose them to the new technologies that will help them make future decisions on their preferred choice of career,” Mroue noted.

He added that as market leader in the telecommunication sector, MTN would continue to take opportunity to enhance the foundation of teens and prepare them for the future.

“For us, connectivity is key to every Nigerian and it is our duty to provide connectivity to all Nigerians, and give them access to future technology.

Our role as MTN is to look at the different demographics and find ways to present new technologies to the people through our 3G and 4G enabled technologies,” Mroue added.

General Manager, Consumer Marketing, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Oluwole Rawa, said the essence was to impact digital skills on young Nigerians, which was a shift from the old ways of our educational system that is more of theoretical than practical.

According to Rawa, MTN had long discovered that children learn faster when taught with technology devices, which he said, informed the decision of the telecoms company to displayed different kinds of practical learning tools in this year mPulse Planet that attracted over 5,000 participants.

“The initiative is impacting in a very big way on our brand since it was first introduced to catch them young. The proposition is around entrepreneurship and preparing the teens for future entrepreneurial skills that will make them self-dependent and reliant and also become future employer of labour.”

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