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September 4, 2013 admin

Taming the gadget monster

Parenting: A challenge

Your children need you more than you will ever be aware of. Inside that little monster who seems to ‘like’ troubling you and testing your patience after you’ve had a hard day at your workplace, is the angel who wants you to guide her, do things for her, teach her and help her because she cannot help herself enough.  Children need you to set things right for them all the time. Set their beds, their clothes, their schoolbags, homework, books as well as their limits and goals and their life…

What numbers reveal

Everyone today even remotely technologically savvy has a smartphone and IPad. And for those who have them, these are their as well as their children’s best friends. A study by the National Institute of Education in Singapore revealed that 65% of children start using a gadget before they turn three. 85% kids are using video and simulation games and 50% use electronic media for educational activities. A British survey revealed that kids are eager to leave school and rush home to get to their best friends: one of their many gadgets. A large number of pre teens are now rampantly seen on social networking sites too. Few parents have rules and regulations about gadget use. Majority fall pray to the trap of gadgets making their kids more intelligent and tech-savvy.

Biological side effects

LCD screens involve electron movement, impact of which is not very positive for the brain’s electrical activity. In adults too, excess computer and television focus can lead to altered neuronal activity. Gadgets are well documented to trigger seizures in epileptic children owing to the indirect neuronal stimulation through the visual pathways. Also, kids who play with smartphones and I-Pads in bed, tend to sleep late, thus are sleep deprived and negatively influence their physical and brain growth in irreversible ways. This also has a role to play in aggression, impaired concentration and hyperactivity in children.

Emotional side effects

Parents find it relatively easy to allow a gadget to silence and comfort a crying child than spend the time and effort doing it themselves. Give them the gadget and like magic the bawling stops and lo and behold, devils are transformed into angels, quiet with their eyes focused in the screen, well seated in their designated place. Earlier, kids were not like the kids of present days. They used to spend a good amount of their formative years with their parents and other family members. Many of were involved in sport, household chores, and more physical activity and socialized learning that involved interpersonal interaction. Instead, now parents are unable to spend ample time with kids, and the kids have that kind of time anyways.

Behavioral side effects

Your toddler has a jar of jellies, and you have apparitions that in no time there will be a mess to clean up. You thoughtlessly snatch the jar from her clutches, and within a millisecond you have set off a protest tantrum from her. You replace the jar of jelly with an I-Pad. The I-Pad is her escape, not her parent. When the I-Pad is taken away the tantrum will repeat. There will probably be a couple of jellies given to appease that now! You’ve saved yourself a mess and now you don’t have to clean the floor, but now you have an emotional cycle created. You have to set the right limits for your little ones and for yourself. And you have to show the right direction so they know what’s right and what’s not.

Interpersonal side effects

While kids today have 900 friends on Facebook and amazing typing speeds with an unsurpassable ability to browse through phones to help you reach where you wish to; they have poor handwriting, inadequate interpersonal skills, lack of confidence in verbal speech and deficits in processing of emotional signals. We have raised their TQ (technological quotient) but diminished the IQ (Intelligence Quotient), EQ (Emotional Quotient) and SQ (Social Quotient). In the larger picture, we are hindering and imprisoning their ability to learn and grow in the other dimensions of existence.

There’s always a way

It would be a wrong strategy to ban gadgets for children. They offer immense opportunity, recreation options, learning experience and intellectual stimulation. Just like burgers and fries and other junk foods; which are alright if given once in a while, but definitely forbidden as regular meals several times a day.  Excess gadget use deserves attention. Establish rules, but at the same time create conditions that make the rules easier to follow. Children need boundaries. They won’t blossom without limits; neither will you as a parent. You must set wise limits and provide structure, which means creating an atmosphere where the child knows when he or she can perform certain activities and when not. That makes limits easier to respect. A ‘limit-setting’ part of disciplining a child is to say “no” when the designated time for gadget use has been overpassed, structuring a schedule for use, fire-walling unsafe and unwanted websites and letting your child know that he or she is too precious for you to not allow something that is good for them. Let them make the best of all opportunities offered to them, and let them love and thank you for it…

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