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Values & Education

Interactive Technology And Children

We are a group of adults sitting and chattering away to glory. Our children, four of them in all, are in the other room, busy pretend-playing. One is a mother. One more is a dada. One is a monster. And, the other is a child. They are cooking. Feeding. Making rockets. Reading to their kid. Scaring each other. Building blocks. Fighting in between and coming to us for refereeing. Somehow, they are keeping themselves engaged, without the demon that I dread the most. The iPad.


Why am I so wary of this technology — the iPad? This is a question that I ask myself often. It is not that my children don’t watch TV. They do have their share of Peppa Pigs and Chota Bheems, although their school teachers advise me against it completely. I still think a little bit of it can do not much harm. In fact, I fear the reverse. In this age of technology, abstaining from it completely could only make it a forbidden fruit. Then, why do I get jittery about the iPad/smart phones alone?

For one, it is an interactive medium unlike the television or the computer. I am sure not many of us parents let our children use the remote control to the Television or use the computer by themselves. Which means, we parents have the advantage of monitoring what is being watched by the kids. The TV and the computer are pretty loud enough for us to keep a ear on what exactly is going on and whether the programmes are good enough for our children to watch it. This advantage is completely negated in the iPad and phones. The children, at their whim, can change games or move to Youtube and watch what they wish. There is always a possibility that they might end up watching age-inappropriate stuff. Also, we cannot keep tab of it from the next room or for that matter, even from the same room. The only way to ensure that they are watching the right thing is by peeping into the device ourselves.

Which brings me to my next point. The iPad and phone screens are too little for our underdeveloped kids’ eyes. Also, the distance at which it is held from the kids is far lesser compared to the TV or the laptop. I am not saying that Televisions are not harmful; of course, they are. I am just saying that televisions and laptops harm the teeny-weeny eyes much lesser than these phone devices.

There was a recent study which said that the dexterity levels in children have gone down because of the constant use of iPad; which is not surprising at all. Building blocks, sewing, painting, running, skipping, crawling and jumping are all done by just a touch of a finger. So, how can the fitness levels and dexterity in children increase? There is only going downhill from there on. Sigh.

I am sure there will be arguments about moderating the iPad/phone time. For once, I wish to differ on this. I don’t think iPads need to be given to the children in the first place. Most of the time, we parents use technology only as a means for relieving our stress levels rather than the gadgets being helpful for the kids. Which is fine until the kids are not affected by it to a large extent. But, once we realize that a technology has harmful side effects, then there is no other way but to ignore such a technology and move on.

Indu is a dreamer by nature; a (former) chartered accountant by profession; and a writer by passion. Her life right now, revolves around her four year old twin boy and girl. The two naughty siblings love to play their pranks on her every day, making her both smile and wince at once. She loves to leave a trail of her life at her blog.