Kids vs Gadgets- Finding A Balance
In today’s technology driven world, we see that our entire life is ruled by gadgets. A gadget for walking, a gadget for reading, a gadget for even monitoring how our heart is beating when we are walking. Today’s kids are growing up with gadgets. A 5-year-old knows to operate a mobile better than a 50–60-year-old. Many parents are in a major dilemma if that is something to be proud of or worry about.
Kids are attracted to these gadgets more quickly than even toys. But why and how does it all start? Typically, it is the parent or primary care giver who introduces these gadgets to kids. This generation’s parents are occupied with a lot of responsibilities and tasks. It requires a village to raise a child they say. However, most families today are in a nuclear set up and find it difficult to manage kids and career especially when both parents are working and the children are cared by the grandparents or nannies. Most of us parents are also constantly using one device or the other through the day. Children imbibe what they see.
Because of lack of time, pressure from work and other activities which need time and attention parents’ resort to easy ways to manage kids. Feeding the kids becomes a huge task. Calming kids when they throw a tantrum is a much more arduous task. It all starts with let me make it a bit easy to feed the kid by showing them a cartoon. Kids have no idea what is going into their mouth as they are engrossed in the cartoon wonder world. It becomes an easy and time saving task for parents to make the kids occupied with cartoon and get their jobs done in parallel. Cartoons penetrate children, they even dream of these, some have imaginary friends that they see in cartoons. Slowly cartoons become a way to control kids’ behaviour. Parents tend to negotiate with cartoons.
It is difficult to take cartoons away from children. There will also be peer pressure of not knowing about some cartoons which their friends are talking about in school. Parents do not have any control over the people their kids interact with outside the house; they cannot be monitoring every conversation the kid has. They pick up words and language easily from television, school and especially the friends they play with. YouTube is flooded with content for kids. From rhymes to stories to toy reviews, you name it you find it. Today anything and everything is a vlog. There are gamers who record their game with commentary and upload it on YouTube for kids to watch. Kids feel as though they are playing this game through them. This can be very addictive for kids, adding no value to them. Watching some shows where parents are constantly playing with kids, doing experiments etc makes the kid feel that it is the norm and why aren’t my parents doing that. They think through what they watch but they cannot analyse or would not understand that these YouTube videos are money making tricks and it is hard to explain.
Now looking back to our times in the 90s, what did we grow up with? Did our parents stress so much about what we watched? Are we stressing so much? Well, the answer is yes and that is because the exposure and ease of access is also more now. We are conscious about the consequences of the content that gets into these tiny brains. When we grew up many of us saw some cartoons for a while because we had only 1 television to be shared with grandparents, parents and us. Each one had their slot. We grew up listening to tele series, music, movies and drama. There were power cuts that forced us to play and embrace boredom. Pandemic has changed the world and us in many ways we never imagined. Not just world history but even our lives can be divided into pre pandemic and post pandemic times. Today especially because of this and having to engage kids 24 x 7 we find it easier to allow access to gadgets.
Many parents fear tantrums that kids throw once they take away their access to television or mobile where they watch videos or play. But aren’t tantrums a normal way to express a child’s disappointment, it helps them relieve their stress and disappointment. Kids move on quite easily, it is us who need to learn to manage their emotions healthily by understanding that they are helpless and calming them down. Many cartoons teach good habits, concepts, numbers, alphabets even good touch and bad touch in an engaging fun way. This helps children learn and adapt faster. It’s the role of parents to make them understand the difference between information, knowledge and wisdom. If a kid is watching a cartoon related to gardening, try to plant a seed and watch it grow together at home. This way the child’s information is converted to knowledge and thereby wisdom. Imposing parental controls, engaging them in other activities like physical play, art forms, reading books, swimming or cycling helps channel energy in positive ways can help in optimal usage of gadgets. Children love adulting, hence involving them in chores empowers them and builds self-esteem . We cannot be with the children 24×7, however we can make the maximum out of the time we spend with them.
Boredom isn’t bad, in fact it helps them think what else they could do. It builds creativity and self- awareness. Surprisingly kids move on very easily, they could play with a twig for hours. Sometimes parents want to do everything for the children, find solutions for them even before they understand the problem. Failure is messy but it makes them strong and independent. There is no one right way to parent, after all each child is so different and so are we. It’s all about finding that balance.
It is important to allow them to be with themselves to find themselves. Why steal it from children when we want pretty much the same at this age?
Shreyaa Nirmal Kumar is a free spirited mom of two, living in Dubai. She worked in IT as a Business Analyst for about 10 years. Currently , she is a homemaker, yoga practitioner and artist. Her hobbies include music, books, art and gardening. She has also learnt Carnatic music. Her interests are cooking, psychology, yoga, music, art and technology.
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