When the number of likes on your post gets the power to control your reaction, you may realize something is not okay. For instance, if your child’s mood fluctuates with the number of connections, you may be at alert that something is just not right. No doubt, technology has immense benefits. However, it also comes with an invisible warning-use it at your own risk!
When suddenly children were expected to shift from offline to online mode, no one knew for how long this may continue! As the time of being in front of the screen increased, several issues related to gadget usage also increased. I have come across many children who are trapped in the cycle of gaming addiction. Some show awareness that they wanted to leave but are unable to. In such a situation, help is needed.
Children get carried away easily without knowing the consequences of their actions. It can be a new game, a friend request from a charming stranger who insists to visit a particular site by clicking on the link, non-stop binge-watching, playing online games to name a few.
There is a good enough reason behind this mayhem of the over usage of gadgets. In growing years, social interaction, social relationships, physical activity outside the four walls of our homes play a vital role in the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development of children. Children learn more by being with others than from books.
They need practical applications to learn about the life skills to manage their life in a more appropriate manner-to manage emotions, about self, communication, problem-solving, decision making, manage stress, and how to be empathetic. Pandemic snatched away opportunity to grow age appropriately. To compensate for the loss of precious years of socialization, they looked for alternate ways to interact. Hence, chatting and video calls replaced face-to-face talk, online games substituted physical play.
Children experienced the feeling of loneliness and sadness while being at home for the whole day. Loneliness made online platforms children’s best friends for now. When the gadget is looked at as a compensatory medium to fight loneliness – there is no fault with intention. However, it gradually leads to dependence without conscious awareness.
Inclination towards gadgets starts with boredom. Children explore various options available to connect and enjoy due to lack of friends, low self-esteem, social anxiety. Various online platforms are viewed as a medium to make friends, to be anonymous, to get likes on posts to boost self-esteem temporarily.
There is nothing beyond the reach of a curious growing mind in the world of information overload. In such situations, they might explore the age-inappropriate arena out of curiosity without calculating the consequences of their actions.
OTT platforms have become a new rage due to the pandemic. Nevertheless, the content available for viewing is not appropriate for all age groups. Some parents who are aware of the content on these platforms might put age-appropriate parental control before handing it over to children. However, what about those parents who are unaware of the availability of such content? Here in such a situation, children can get open access to platforms such as prime and others with no parental control.
Parents also accept that the present situation is complex. In such situations, parents are at fix! Confused- What is the right thing to do? Whether to provide gadgets for an extended period or not? We, parents, have a tough job at hand-that too when the pandemic has not announced its departure yet – when offline classes have not started fully. We need to think about how to help the child to manage gadgets time judiciously. The usage of laptops/mobiles has taken the form of the basic needs if we wish our children to avail uninterrupted schooling years.
In the present scenario, we need to create such a strong bond with our children that they never feel the need to lie or hide. They lie when they are afraid so, once you achieve this, other things may slowly fall back into their place.
Imagine being a child again or remember the days when you were a child. Were you able to sit ideally? Were you not always up to something until and unless watching tv or studying? Children have a curious mind. They need to explore, talk, indulge in discussions, enact, play. In absence of such stimulation in the environment-they search for alternate ways to exert their energy and to pass their time. If you want your child to stay away from non-stop indulgence in gadgets -consciously create an alternate stimulating environment around your child for overall development.
There is a pressing need to break the vicious cycle of the virtual world where our children are lured into the world of gaming, chatting, and superficial standards of self-image, self-worth.
Presently schooling is mostly dependent on online mode of education. We like it or not, even so, we need to provide the necessary gadgets to continue with their online schooling. But at what cost? When the situation is not in our control and choices are minimal, we need to look for ways to minimize the over usage of gadgets.
1)Monitor-it means to keep a tab on their screen time and be informed about their usage at various platforms. If required, sometimes sit beside your children for a while.
2) Seating arrangement-let there be transparency while children are using gadgets- let us not permit children to sit in the corner or behind closed doors.
3)Talk time-Keep talking to your children once a week to find out if they are doing okay.
4)Make a schedule-such a schedule includes activities other than studies and gadget time too-playing board games, meditation, gardening, creating a reading club among family members, cooking, or just talking.
5)Take a middle path-include few hours of scheduled free time that may be used as gadgets time with supervision.
6)Gratitude-help children maintain a gratitude journal to help them understand the value of life they have. More so, we can always find something every day to be thankful for.
7)Family time-to make family time successful-gadgets should be put aside on silent mode to be physically as well as mentally present with our children.
8)Unconditional support-let your children know that you are always there for them if they get into any trouble. Talk to them, ask questions, talk about their friends, and try to find out about their likes/dislikes- this can happen if you connect by bringing yourself down to their level. It may help them open up freely with you without fear of judgment. Parents need to let them know that parents can help in difficult situations so, instead of saying lies, they must speak the truth.
9)Forgive-if your child has gone wrong in any manner, give time to mend his mistakes. Punishing may not help in the long run as we all commit blunders sometimes in our life.
10)Patience and time to change-change can take place only if the atmosphere to change is provided. Remember, we need to keep moving forward in our life by setting an example for our children.
“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt
Pallavi Sahu- Psychologist
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