This is a scene from the sitting room of a nuclear family.
The mother enters the room. Rahul, her 3-year-old son is watching TV, which is tuned on full volume.
Mother: “Rahul, son get up. Come and take bath.”
Rahul: “Mamma please. I will close the TV in five minutes.”
Mother comes again after fifteen minutes.
Mother, “Rahul you are still here watching TV. I am switching it off.” The TV is switched off. Now starts the pandemonium. Rahul starts throwing tantrums, shrieking loudly, goes out of control and starts hitting his Mother. The Lady seems to have no other option; again the TV is switched on. Within seconds, the child goes and sits in front of the “idiot box”, as if nothing has happened. I am a witness to this episode.
I have observed that over the years parental control has considerably decreased. The only reason, which I feel is that there are smaller families with only one or two children, who tend to be the ‘darlings’ of their Mom and Dad. Whatever may be the reason, every parent wishes a happy and successful future for the child.
Sitting in front of the television during the major part of the day affects the mental as well as the physical growth of the child. Many children aged two or three years, keep watching cartoons to which they become addicted. I have seen children, who do not even understand the language, enjoying every minute of such cartoons. In many houses TV is always on full volume.
It is of utmost importance that the parents fix a time for viewing TV or even playing video games. The children must have physical and mental exercises. Through outdoor activities the children develop better reflexes, learn the basics of give and take and cooperating with others. Excessive use of TV and computers is taking away the joys that we, as children, experienced because these gizmos were not there to divert us.
Outdoor activity provides children opportunities to scrutinize, experiment, discover, shout, sing, dance with joy, fight and reunite with friends of their own age group. Swami Vivekananda, a renowned saint, philosopher and a spiritual leader of India, whose 150th birth anniversary was celebrated recently; rightly and wisely observed that leaders are made on the play fields rather than in class rooms.
Children who are encouraged to play are healthier, develop self-esteem and a spirit of camaraderie. Medical and health research personals have emphatically advocated that to avoid lifestyle induced diseases, it is necessary that right from childhood children are exposed to outdoor activities.
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It is essential not to have a sedentary lifestyle right from a very young age. Of late, a new trend has been noticed. While sitting in front of TV or internet, children keep munching fast food, which is readily available everywhere and delivered at home. This uncontrolled eating of undesirable food leads to obesity in children. This life style is a matter of concern for health researchers. According to a survey conducted in metropolitan cities the percentage of obesity in children has considerably increased.
I quote below an extract from an article, of The Times of India dated March 15, 2013, titled –
‘Too much TV can give your kid cancer’— the increasing hours of watching TV, playing computer games or surfing the internet can put them at a much higher risk of getting cancer in adult life, experts have warned. Doctors fear that long spells of inactivity while glued to a screen may lead to childhood obesity and the associated health dangers, and now they are calling on parents to restrict the amount of time kids watch TV…’
Watching TV while sitting in one position or lying down affects the posture of the children. A Physiotherapist friend told me the other day that a large number of young children visit Hospitals for treatment of spondylitis, which is caused by incorrect posture.
Some parents may say there is no open space near their residence. Generally, in all group housing societies open space is available. The idea is that the children must be exposed to fresh air. They should perform some exercises which are essential for the nourishment for the body and the mind.
An old adage – ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ is correct for all times. However, if there is no open space the child must not be allowed to sit in front of TV for long hours. Several indoor games are there in the market. The aim should be that the child has some diversion to enable him/her to develop his/her body, mind and soul.
Usha Menon, a 77-years-old retired educationist, who has four sweet, adorable grandchildren. Last year she wrote a book,”Reverse Gear.” This book is a sort of analogy between her professional and personal life, depicting the travails, ups and downs faced by an average working woman. As a retired person, She is leading a contented life with a loving husband, devoted son, daughter-in-law and two grand daughters. Her doting daughter, son-in-law, and two grand sons, who are very affectionate, look after her and her husband. She is grateful to God that He has, in His grace, given her an opportunity to live a life of peaceful contentment.