“Turn off your mail. Turn off your phone. Disconnect from the Internet. Figure out a way to set limits so you can concentrate when you need to, and disengage when you need to. Technology is a good servant but a bad master “– Gretchen Rubin
Mobile phones are so integral to our lives today that it has practically become an indispensable extension device to our body. It is not just adults and adolescents but even today’s children and infants are beginning to have an overpowering impact of mobile phones on their lives.
Let us look briefly at “Life before and after mobiles” –
- Feeding the soul versus feeding the mind – Before the mobile era, the lullabies, the jovial time with other children and siblings would feed the soul and foster happiness. Today, while mobile phones and Internet do feed the mind with lots of useful information, alongside it has wiped off several soul soothing moments such as bonding time with the family, building and nurturing relationships and the spirit of sharing and caring. Sadly, personal interactions are no longer cherished by many.
- Impact on Academics and Language skills – Excessive use of mobile phones by children distracts them from Academics in multiple ways. Time spent on home work is not productive. Attention span at school is reduced. Fatigue from excessive phone usage brings down efficiency. With Google as the new Go-to friend, newer addictions like videogames and surfing the internet have substituted healthy reading habits. The beauty of vocabulary and small courtesies in spoken and written language are fast vanishing and replaced by impersonal acronyms.
- Life skills and holistic personality development - Childhood and adolescence is the best time for a holistic personality development through life skills and diverse extracurricular activities. Time spent on mobile is valuable time lost on developing these skills. Robust and holistic extracurricular activates such as Nature walk, time with animals and bird watching are becoming less relevant.
- Health hazards: Children are more sensitive to the radiation from the phones according to medical research. Low appetite, fatigue and several other health hazards like deteriorated eye sight, complaints like aches and pains in neck joints all result in mental stress and related problems.
- Negative influences on brain development: While having a personal phone is indeed perceived as a signature statement of identity and independence, what is severely damaging humanity is that with just a click, it opens up the entire e-world, exposing them to a world of uncensored information. Specially, adolescents who are in a vulnerable phase become exposed to and sometimes even fall prey to negative influences such as malpractices, cyber crimes and pornography.
How did it all start, though?
The Concept of Staying connected poses a challenge on responsible parenting. We tend to feel comfortable in several ways when we hand over a mobile phone to our children. One, children can reach out to us at the click of a button whenever they need help. Two, we know that mobile phones can be our child’s good friend so we can have sufficient “Me time” for our own engagements, official tasks or friends. Little do we realize that children spend time on mobile phones, not because they need them but only because we do not have time for them. And of course, given the fact that we ourselves are addicted to these gadgets, the same culture resonates amongst our children and we set the wrong example.
What can be done and how?
Mobile is no doubt a boon that technology has showered on us. But at the same time it is extremely important to prohibit or at least restrict the use of mobile phones especially for the Under-16 children in the following ways -
- Lead by example – Use discretion and regulate usage and purpose for which we use phone in order to be able to present the right practices to our children.
- Use parental controls on mobile to block sites that can have negative influences on children.
- Prohibit usage of phones at night and during times when there is no parental supervision.
- Encourage use of speakerphones as advised by doctors to avoid radiation impact.