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The 21st century is not an easy century to be in. There are so many pressures and problems. And, when it comes to the young generation, they just get compounded. The earlier generations had only their elders to rely upon for any kind of information.
The elders, be it parents, elder siblings, teachers, were our windows to the world. Today, the youngsters have the world of internet to rely on. Any information, anything they need all they have to do is log on to the net and Google it.
Is that bad?
There is nothing wrong with it, till it is done in limits. There are many parents who spell out a timeline for things to be done like they allow playtime, sleep time, meal time and also internet time and do not allow for any exception. Again if done in a banal manner, it can become too regimented and will see the children rebel. However, when the parents can do this by explaining, by involving their children in setting their routine, it helps children get into a rhythm. Same goes for screen time.
The problem starts when their screen time starts taking over their time for the family, real friends, study, job, among others, it is a sign of things getting out of hand. Their productivity and social relationships take a hit, for all you know they may be addicted to playing games, gambling, shopping or watching porn online. They become compulsive internet junkies. That’s when they start to suffer from internet addiction disorder (IAD).
That’s not all.
A compulsive and extensive internet user will start to suffer from physical discomfort for the same reason. I remember, during the Jan Lokpal Bill agitation of Anna Hazare, I was constantly on FB and Blackberry Messenger talking to friends, reading about things and almost getting into an online fight with my friends on some issues. The hectic online activity for a good 10 days gave me carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS), a severe pain of the wrist and the thumb, a condition that refuses to leave me for good. The other physical conditions it can manifest itself would be in the form of neck pain, shoulder pain, weight gain or may be weight loss in some cases.
So what to do?
If any amount of scolding, reprimand, cajoling your child to curtail the use of internet falls on deaf ears, not to mention the aggressive defence on the part of the child for his screen time, it is time to send the alarm bells ringing. By all means install digital parenting application as eKAVACH, block sites, do content filtering, chat monitoring and what have you. If you are not tech-savvy, take a crash course on the internet terminology. This will help you become a better digital parent. Always remember, there is nothing that is impossible in this world for a parent. However, what is most important is to talk with your child. Make him/her understand the actual use of the internet. Try and understand what makes him/her spend so much time online. Is he/she shy, has trouble making real friends? What does he/she need online that he goes there all the time? Once, you know what makes him/her glued there, it will be easier to take corrective steps.
Other than that, involve him/her in real activities which make him/her interact with others his/her age in a healthy manner. Get him/her to join some kind of sport like football, cricket, tennis, squash,badminton or may be some activities like dance, music, art…anything he/she is good at and is interested in. These are positive ways to release energy and at the same make friends with real people. Make sure instead of pointing out the negatives in your child, you only talk about his positives. He/she should feel empowered and happy after talking to you every time. Don’t just tell him/her to do things himself. Involve yourself too by taking him/her out for walks or shopping. Spend quality time discussing things other than studies or home.
You can also decide to take him/her to a qualified counsellor, but then the truth is that the people who know him/her inside out are his parents who are also his best shrink. Positive parenting says the key is to be patient, persistent and believe in the inner potential of your child to overcome any problem on his/her own.