Blow-off the kids or their Smart mobiles: Become Smarter
It all started with ‘Snake’, Nokia’s popular mobile game, though ‘Tetris’ variant on Hagenuk MT-2000 device is regarded as the first mobile game. The onrush had just begun, and then came, the Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), Smart Phones with Android, iphones from Apple, galaxy phones from Samsung, etc. The Smart Phones kept on becoming smarter and smarter but the age old proverb of ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’ was proved to be inapplicable in this atypical Apple product.
These ‘Smart’ phones are not making the kids smarter instead they are becoming dullards. These apples are doctor magnets and not doctor deflectors.
It is well proved by now that just like the idiot-boxes, mobiles ‘the-other-signal-catching-handy-remote’,are now controlling the minds of the population. In fact, the two boxes have joined hands, now TV is available on Mobiles with the help of Apps. Finally, one fails to understand whether ‘Apps’ are App-lications or ‘App-aritions’. Smart phones are an inseparable part of almost the entire world population now.
On the one hand, where the smart phone helps an anxiously awaiting father to track his son’s arrival home after the tuition class, it is a source of relief and safety; on the other hand, the same mobile creates anxiety, distress and increased accidents risk, for people commuting long distances every day to work. With the increased amount of time spent by these travellers with their mobiles they experience high risk of sleep disorders, hearing impairment (earplugs), eyesight problems, ‘dependence syndrome’, cancer, etc. New illnesses like Phantom Phone Ringing Syndrome, the Google Effect, Nomophobia (no-mobile phobia), Facebook Depression, etc. have already pinged our minds.
Because of Smart mobiles with e-banking facilities, people are able to transfer e-money easily and don’t have to stand in queues during the day for their daily needs. Emails are zooming here and there. But the same Smart mobiles are making spouses and siblings sit at different angles in the same room to get their ‘private space’ and ‘alone time’ away from each other. In spite of being in contact with the online world (virtual), masses don’t have eye contact with the real world.
Aristotle, the legendary Greek philosopher, once said, ‘Man is by nature a social animal…’ but in today’s times, man is increasingly becoming unsocial. ‘Mobile overuse’ or ‘Mobile addiction’ was not the foremost purpose of creating this gadget by the creators. The Mobile Artificer, Martin Cooper, in 1928, could not have been aware of the far reaching effects of his invention. Ubiquitousness of smartphones only informs us that we are yet to see the real power of the smartphones. Grown-ups are still struggling to learn what babies are born with; children are better mobile users. It is probably, because children are more technology-embracing than the grown-ups. Children use mobiles with added ease, more frequently and faster. Many smart mobile-wary parents appeal to their children and grandchildren to help them with their daily usage of mobiles. Once proficient in handling mobiles, children whine to spend more and more time with their ipads, tablets or smart phones than go outside and play. Of course! Watching and playing on mobiles is easier than running in the field or cycling.
In addition to all this, mobiles are important parts of children’s menus today. Children feed on them, stay with them and sit still. There is a dire need in the society to limit the ‘mobile time’ for them. And as it is evident to all, that ‘seniors should practice what they preach’. Children will routinely copy that behaviour from their elders. Children will unlearn using mobiles for extended period of time from their elders only, because it is in kids’ nature to follow their nurturers.
Whether it is, a two year old watching Youtube videos, seven year old playing ‘BubbleWitch Saga’, a twelve year old digging and looking for jewels in ‘Minecraft’, a fifteen year old relaxing over ‘Candy Crush Saga’, an eighteen year old trying to conquer the world in ‘Clash of Clans’ or a twenty year old fixing the evening party over ‘Whatsapp’ messages, everybody has to set limits. It is to be observed and understood, how much is too much? People have to be weaned off their e-habits.
Boundaries have to be set for children ‘alone time’ with the devices. The temper tantrums shown by children while parents take the device back after their playtime could be avoided. Parents could signal to the child that, five minutes are left for the mobile to be submitted back instead of sudden commands for instant submission of the device. Intermittently, let children know that their time is running out. Ultimately, parents should remember that ‘They are the Boss!’
Children could inadvertently cause their families huge financial losses while playing games; therefore ‘Password Protection’ should be used for all credit card or online-line purchase related apps. Parental supervision is a must with children of all ages while they handle the device. These modern pacifiers are enjoyed by parents and children alike. Parents get exemption from parenthood – while children are busy with mobiles they do not get hurt physically, they are engaged somewhere, they will not disturb parents for their basic needs – like food, rest, etc.
Parents have to bridge the gap between studies and boredom, in the lives of their children. Filling their free time with social and physical activities could substantially reduce ‘screen time’. Parents provide gaming devices and mobiles to children to ensure everybody’s convenience. Taking away the play device without providing an engaging alternative to children will not work because TVs have already hyper-activated the minds of our children. They cannot sit still for long.
Getting nestlings close to nature and gardening, helping them to follow a hobby regularly, investing in traditional outdoor games with family and neighbours, getting them consumed in starry nights – star gazing, reading out to them, planning room makeovers with them, involving them with make-believe stories, etc. are all good practices.These help the youngsters to get up and move rather than sit all day like couch potatoes. Encourage them to make their own videos of their innovations rather than watch the feats of others.
In the end, let us revisit George Orwell’s famous quote from 1984,
‘Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.’
In terms of addiction of smart phones, it can be interpreted as until the fiddlers become conscious of the harmful effects of spending most of their time with smart phones they’ll never oppose, and without opposing the wastage of their leisure time in the company of the screens, children can never realise their potential and abilities to etch the present and future.
I have been a fun-loving and committed facilitator for almost ten years, working with middle and high school students. Particularly, ‘seeing a smile on the face of every student’ motto makes me suitably draft my classroom instructions and plans. My double MA degrees in English and Education help me to create a relaxed atmosphere with learners and specifically ease interactions, thereby teaching ‘growth mindset’ to my students.
With my B.Ed. and MCA degrees, I love to be a technology savvy learner and a teacher. I am intrigued by the conveniences offered by Google Classrooms, and Khan Academy. With these and similar kinds of inspirations from co-teachers, magazines and my students everyday, new rays of hope fill my heart and mind to be a curious gap-filler for generations.
Having undergone various short-term courses from IGNOU and Coursera, I have realised that I cannot tell my students that sky is the limit because there is ‘curiosity’ on the Mars.