Smartphones and children: a slow social change is coming


By Vijay Phanshikar:

To his four children, the legendary Steve Jobs had not given smart phones. This information may shock us all. But then he decided to keep his children away from these gadgets until they grew up. “I don’t want my kids to wander off or get addicted to the wrong things at the wrong time,” he reportedly told a neighbor (who was also his business associate) when the latter came with his family for dinner. Of course, try talking about this issue to the average Indian parents and most of them will tell you openly and clearly that smart phones have become a necessity today and children must be given these gadgets. Clearly, average Indian parents are smarter than Steve Jobs, so to speak! Despite this reality, there is good news from this social front – that at least some Indian parents are beginning to realize the dangers and risks of giving smart phones to their children who are immature and therefore ignorant of how to use and not to use the gadget. Perhaps a social change seems to be happening.

Let’s wait for this change to bear fruit in due course. But the fact is, at least at this point, parental realization is painfully slow in coming. Meanwhile, many social conversations in the country are dominated by anecdotes of how countless children in Indian homes have been negatively affected by gadget addiction in general and smart phones in particular. But the great thinker did not lose hope. He went there – campaigning against allowing children to become addicted to smart phones. He found reason to believe that in due time the average Indian families will realize their folly and rectify their thoughts and actions. Certainly, until such a wave overtakes the whole of Indian society, a lot of damage may have been done to our young people of impressionable age. But then the big thinker also realized that some good changes take their own time to happen. Last week, however, a family accosted the Big Thinker during their morning walk in the park. They were a nice quartet — dad, mom and two sons. Smiling broadly, they shared their successful experience of keeping the two little ones – possibly 12 and 10 years old – away from smart phones.

“We consciously decided to do it,” the father said. “We gave our sons confidence and had a good time with them doing good things, so that they weren’t drawn to cell phones,” he added. Then the mother took over: “We also went to their school to talk about this problem with the teachers and the director. We convinced them that they shouldn’t share homework with the kids over the phone. After some difficulty, we won the argument. Now at least our sons don’t get their homework done over the phone, she said. It was a good example to know — and to cite later. The great thinker knows that the number of these families is increasing. That’s the point of hope – albeit a faint one. After all, hope is the potion that keeps us going.


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