When Sangeeta Mankar’s four year-old son corrected her about her cell phone being a smart phone, she was not only taken aback, but also made a mental note of using the right term the next time. Some parents like her are awed by the tech-savviness of their children and, here’s the surprise, even feel there is more good than bad in keeping pace with technology. They are not swayed by arguments like it isolates family members, or keeps children indoors or that it shortens the attention span and exposes them to online danger.
Many like IT entrepreneur Sachin Dasgupta said technology is making inroads into daily conversations among adults and children. “My four-year-old daughter Sarika plays games on the cell phone. One evening, her mother was angry with her and the moment I entered, Sarika whispered, ‘Dad, don't talk. Mom’s an ‘angry bird’ now, level three’. We burst out laughing,” he said.
Dasgupta’s colleague Pawan Singh’s three-year-old son loves playing games on the laptop. Singh says he uses it more than him or his wife. “He is a genius with technical stuff. From handling the LED to operating the home theatre, he is a wizard. If he asks for a gadget, I'll get him one provided it is within my reach. Kids need to keep up,” he said. Such liberty often makes children ask for gadgets.
Rahul Shende (4) said he loved to play on his father's iPad. “For my next birthday, he has promised me one,” he said. His mother Rupam said “there was no harm in children getting tech-savvy. I read a story on the internet about how a toddler called his grandma after his mother had a sudden blood sugar fall,” she said.
Not everyone agrees with doting parents. Kindergarten school teacher Janice Alva frets about the loss of innocence and childhood. “The innocents seem happy with technology. Yes, they are becoming smarter, but they no longer socialise. They would rather play computer games than chase butterflies. They are growing up learning the SMS language. So their spellings are a mess,” she said. Though her school has banned cell phones and other gadgets, they have to accommodate parents who request that their wards carry a cell phone as they can track them, she added.
Stockiest are now used to little ones deciding which new cell phone their parents will buy. Many young ones put them through queries like battery life, storage space, games and supporting applications, their parents blushing with wonder and pride. Ulhas Narang, a shop owner on M. G. Road, said children accompanying parents when cell phone-shopping is common. “The kids are better informed. Recently, a lady with a four year-old son, wanted to buy a new instrument. I was showing her easy-to handle models, but her son insisted on a high-end smart phone. And the lady bought it. But we know who is going to find more use for it,” he said.
A study done last year by a kids' channel, had startling figures. About 22% children access the internet daily and 67% play online games, while 51% download or listen to music online. Of all the gaming platforms, the cell phone is most commonly used by kids, with 50% children opting for it. It is followed by gaming consoles, preferred by 35% kids. Child psychologists warn about the pitfalls. “Thanks to overuse of technology, kids are becoming introverted and lack social skills. They have forgotten to play with friends and they don't learn to share. Many end up with headaches, stomach pains and muscle aches induced by playing on gaming consoles and computers. Physical exercise is no longer an option,” said child psychologist Swapnil Deshmukh.
Another child psychologist, Natasha D’Cruz, said it was up to parents to make technology play a positive in their child's life. “If parents use technology as a knowledge tool, it can simulate a child and help develop learning abilities. But, if parents use technology as just another medium to keep the child ‘occupied’, it would have an adverse effect. Parents are often too busy and they depend on these gadgets to keep the child occupied,” she added.
Courtesy: Times of India