Being Gadget Savvy

Light of truth

Vijitha Seabstian Adappoor

Winding up the academic session every year is always filled with myriad activities- the main being the finalizing and declaration of the results. There is also a streamline of anxious parents waiting to load up recommendations from the higher ups so that their wards can be catapulted to the next level on the academic scale. The last day of the session is mostly devoted to the annual assessment of what was done, not done and those that could be done by the facilitators of learning. The teachers normally sit around nodding to all that they hear irrespective of the fact whether they agree or disagree with the opinions of their superiors.

The new changes brought about in the education system, the gadget savvy kids, the unprincipled lifestyle of both the young and the old, open flouting of rules and regulations, uncontrolled pampering of kids by parents who very seriously adopted the two child norm set by the government – all these and many more were the reasons cited for the decline seen in the academic performance of students. I have heard teachers from different places voice the same concern – ‘Why isn’t the breed of teachers in this era able to instil in the students the love of learning? Is it because the distractions are many?

A recent survey of young ones from different strata of society revealed that while interacting with others, basic manners were tossed to the wind by the young ones. The words they use, the tone in which they speak and to top it all their decision to refuse to respond to our queries immediately as they have other important work on their gadgets are some of the traits commonly noted. A mother’s outburst went to the extent of saying that even if she is breathing her last, she cannot count on her offspring to jump up and resuscitate her on time. The reason for this is not because they lag behind in their responsibilities but the fact that they remain oblivious to all that is happening near them. With their devices plugged into their ears all the time, how can a parent expect them to reach out in time?

Once while driving through a new city, I was wondering how to locate my destination. It was then that I remembered my cousin’s advice, which was, ‘just open your mouth and ask others.’ These days if a person guides us by saying – go straight, take a left, then right, walk a furlong, then take a second turn to the left……there is only a miniscule chance that we will remember it but there was a time when technology did not assist us and these directions were considered the best. Children are unable to get out of their online conversations that keep them engaged all through. Due to this fact they shirk the opportunity to go up and ask someone for help. Their immediate elders still expect verbal conversation and complete all that is needed to be done without procrastination.

Most parents will agree with me that now-a-days the children do not know how to disagree without getting mad, they do not make eye contact while speaking to others, they are unaware of the fact that some of the words they use in common parlance might hurt or put down others. The child perhaps hasn’t heard what’s okay and what’s not okay when it comes to expressing feelings. It is a known fact that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, sleep and eating disorders, obesity etc. Some of the things that need urgent attention are taming impulsivity, learning to wait for their turn, not to cut in the line, not to call out in a class discussion and developing the capacity to feel happy and be empathetic towards others.

Our children are so immersed in the media and the tech-gadgets through their formative years that they have lost that protected time for reflection and conversation with parents and family. Instead they are watching handheld screens, circulating pictures, texting or e-mailing their friends etc. The debriefing time after school, over a snack with mom and dad or with a teacher, caretaker or someone else at home is grossly missing. Dinnertime used to be the time when thoughts about the day were analysed and assessed through discussions with other family members. The effect of bedtime reading and rituals offer a quiet time for reflection and an opportunity to bring the events of the day to a peaceful conclusion. All this was available in plenty in the pre-digital age.

The voices of parents help to balance a child’s innermost sense of himself. Their optimistic encouragements help the child feel strong internally. They help the young ones to handle tough situations, know what is right and wrong be a good friend, and take good care of themselves. Is the technology mediated environment an adequate substitute for the human one? Future belongs to those who refrain from being a slave of gadgets and overcome their constant temptation.

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