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A few days back while going to my hospital, my attention was drawn towards a child. This child was standing near a house that was under construction. There was a pile of cement or maybe sand on which he was standing atop and his parents were busy carrying bricks and other stuff from one place to another. The child, who seemed to be of around 3-5 years of age, was busy scrolling through his smartphone, looking to find something that may interest him.
It was amusing to watch his concentration and focus on that device. At the same time, it provided an opportunity for his parents to carry on with their work. What was shocking though to me was that all this was happening roadside and if nobody paid attention, the child would have walked to some dangerous spot while scrolling on his phone and could have probably hurt himself. I couldn’t see anyone keeping an eye on him in particular, but maybe one of his parents was.
Then I thought of us and how most of us tend to use mobile phones to engage or distract kids, be it while giving food or just to distract them when some important work call is going on. It has become a necessary menace of our lives, necessary because it has made work easier and in today’s times of small nuclear families, it is a great help, and menace because kids are getting addicted to it. The current pandemic has added the screen exposure among kids due to online schooling, limited outdoor activities and other sources of entertainment.
Although there are numerous apps for kids and they are full of information for kids of all ages, the internet and mobile applications are like a blind well, the more you enter it, the more dangerous it becomes. Sometimes, videos with inappropriate content may flash in between kid-friendly videos or the advertisement in between the games may not be appropriate for their age. The risks and strain on the eyes because of the blue light of mobiles is also not good for kids.
So should we stop letting children use mobile phones? I don’t think it would be possible anytime soon. The mobile carries the same craze that video games and television had when we were kids. But, today, the problem is the level of exposure, lack of enough control, and the way kids use mobile.
It is important that we as parents should allow the use of such devices only under supervision so that we can keep a watch over the quantity and the quality of the content. We must make sure that our kids don’t use mobile phones for more than 15-20 minutes, as it could hurt their eyes and health in the long run. Using laptops for studying and television for entertainment are somewhat better as we can regulate the distance and can keep a watch easily.
There have been numerous recommendations with regards to the usage of mobile phones and other digital screens, but looking at the practical aspects of life and keeping the current scenario in our minds, we should find a balance.
And then I think of this family working on the road for whom it’s about what they are earning on daily basis to make their ends meet, how they are coping in their own ways and the diligence of this little boy who is lost in his world of mobile not bothering by the absence of his parents, roadside traffic, or any other thing in this whole world.
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