Should we pamper our children with gadgets?

World Mental Health Day is an attempt to draw attention and create awareness about mental health issues. In India, particularly, there is a dire need of awareness about mental health issues since such issues are still considered to be a taboo among a large section of the population. Mental health issues among students and adolescents in particular need to be addressed carefully. Since, there is less to no engagement available to detect and help young students struggling with mental health issues, it poses a bigger problem. Adolescents, at the cusp of adulthood, go through a lot of changes not just hormonal but emotional as well. Our education system still lacks a proper mechanism to provide counselling and guidance to students about the emotional issues they undergo. To top it all, adolescents also have to endure the pressure of Board exams in India, thus adding in to the stress and anxiety they have to face.

These days most of the children are lost in gadgets, they have taken the much precious time and space which was meant for the parents and also their overall development. When smart phones were not introduced, children used to play in garden breathing fresh air and the sports used to play a vital role in their growth. Today’s kids are departing from parents and their loved ones and just getting entangled into their own virtual world with so many physical and mental health issues. Children are glued on to the gadgets and they have no time for other quests. Parents too need to be blamed as they are regularly purchasing new gadgets for their children in keeping with the peer pressure and giving in to the demands.

This addiction of gadgets is deeply affecting the social and personal skills of our kids. It is noticed that a youngster may be expert at texting but poor at real communication with someone face-to-face. You may find a kid holding full grip on a computer game but not at any other outdoor game. This is really a considerable issue attached with the future security of our young kids that are addicts to gadgets.

Children who spend long hours staring on screens usually complain less concentration on studies and missing out their essential sleep. It makes them peevish, grumpy, and aggressive and they don’t take notice of anything going on around them until they finish. Gadgets are not only killing their social, personal and creative skills but also leaving negative impacts on their health and emotions.

Our new generation is right to be called a ‘multimedia generation’ as they are all crazy for one gadget or the other, and some keep more than one. They spend most hours of their day with handsets, TV, video games and other technology gadgets and much more on downloads. Most of the children spend 7 to 10 hours of the day with their gadget no matter it is TV, computer, mobile, video game, multimedia device and any other technology toys. They seem eager to leave from school to go home and get their fun back with gadgets. Parents too provide them every luxury at home to keep them busy and have hassle free time. The basic communication between parents and children is missing.

The excess use of electronics and gadgets should be and can be controlled by parents. They should fix their hour for playing with gadgets. Kids of 9 to 12 age require 10 hours of sleep that are favourable to their health. If they don’t get it, it is harmful to their physical and mental health. For this purpose, parents should adopt good strategies. In my opinion, it would not be a wrong strategy to ban gadgets for young children. Today, children are a demanding lot. Every day there are more and more exciting gadgets to acquire. Mobile phones, video games, iPod, computers, music systems, there are newer models available everyday. Sometimes, by the time you get around purchasing something, it is already out-dated. In this scenario, how much should parent pamper their children is the big question?

At the outset, as a working mother, you are probably already erring on the side of indulgence. Working mothers tend to feel guilty about their absence from home and are more likely to give in to their children’s demands. Giving in is also easier, since with a dual income, a home with working parents tends to have greater throwaway income. Will the amount you spend on it make you uncomfortable? You will know in your gut whether your child should have the latest version of a video game. If you decide against buying the new gadget, you need to talk to him about why he should not have it. Compare the cost of that gadget to a poor man’s income. Put its cost into perspective for him. Ask him to buy it out of his own savings! If it is peer pressure that is making him desire this new item, you need to have a long, hard look at his friends. It is natural that your son will have a need to be liked by his peers and fall in with their behaviour patterns. Ideally, his group should have a positive influence on him and should have values similar to his own. He should choose his friends wisely.

Sometime, you as parents fail to notice the impact the gadgets have on the development of the child. The child gets hooked on to the gadgets and hardly has time for other things in life. He fails to pursue his interests. Suddenly when these gadgets are taken away from them, they feel restless and irritated. Gadgets bring about behavioural changes in the child. He prefers to be lonely but with his gadget.

It is high time now to monitor your child before it is too late. Giving in to demands sometimes is okay but there needs to be a good reason for it. The child should be monitored for the hours spent on gadgets and a time should be fixed for this. The best option for you as a parent is to talk to him a lot so as to prevent him from feeling isolated. You could also encourage him to make new friends. Let him enjoy the beauty and marvels of nature by taking him out on a picnic or for trekking. All of this takes time and patience. Enrol him for hobby classes so that his attention is diverted and his time is spent fruitfully.