Gadgets, a bane or boon: will the debate ever end?
Parents of 14-year-old Krisha and her 10-year-old younger brother Shravan were worried about their academic progress. While they did not expect exceptional grades, they were anxious because the kids had suddenly shown a dip in their grades along with other behavioural changes ever since they were given access to a mobile phone that the two shared. When they spoke to the school counsellor followed by a professional counsellor, they were advised to reduce the time they spent on gadgets.With the growing use of technology, it is difficult to keep kids away from it completely. Parents who are aware of the impact are grappling with a way out and trying to find a solution. Recently at a panel discussion on the impact of gadgets on children and the way out, experts were of the opinion that children below seven years of age should not be using gadgets independently.
Effects on the child’s diet and health:
According to Shilpa Mittal, a nutritionist, the impact of gadgets on nutrition needs to be given importance, too. Sharing insights into mobile apps that help one track mobile usage – which she feels is a wonderful tool to time and curb excessive mobile usage – she says, “A healthy diet, rich in antioxidants like Vitamin A, D and C, can help reduce the effects of radiation. Kids should have more seasonal fruits and vegetables for the same. Also, they need to stop using gadgets during meals; it is a major cause of obesity.”
It is common to see children wearing glasses from a very early age. Eye surgeon Dr Hiten Makwana categorically talks about the ill-effects of the radiation from the screens of the high-end gadgets. “More than 40 per cent of school-going children now wear spectacles as a result of overexposure to bright pixelated screens. It is important to curb screen time and have parental guidance every time children start using smartphones,” he says.
Parents need to curb their habits:
One more disturbing trend is of parents buying phones for children, to have some time away from them. Riddhi Doshi Patel, child psychologist and behavioural expert, shares her concerns about the same. “Smartphones are convenient to keep a child seemingly occupied and avoid mischievous behaviour when parents have other things to attend to; it becomes a bane when children become hooked to the same and throw tantrums when denied. It is important to be in your children’s memory in the future and for that you have to be in their lives today.”
Keep a time check on usage:
Career counsellor Rita Balachandran was of the opinion that it is easy for children to be confused or ill-informed when they have too much access to the hand-held gadgets and the internet. “Tons of information is freely available on the web, however, not all of it is authentic or genuine and can be misleading. Unfortunately, children are not equipped to understand or differentiate correct information from misleading trash. They grow up to become intelligent with a huge resource of information but lack imagination and creativity, which is the genesis of solving real world challenges.” Dr Devang Shah, a pediatrician with his years of experience in dealing with children emphasises the need for parents to curb gadget time for children.
He says, “Keep children below two years of age away from hand-held gadgets. Addiction to gadgets is leading to destructive behaviour, aggressive temperament and juvenile delinquency among many children today.”
Limiting screen time and following strict parental rules while using gadgets is a must. The onus lies on the parent to be able to explain and implement the effective uses of gadgets and gizmos.