Yuvaan , 4, and his sister Akaansha , 5, seem like the perfect children and friends. They listen attentively to stories by their mother, are observant, eat without fuss and sleep on time. â€œAfter coming back from play school, we usually go to the park to play games and ride the bike with them,â€œ says their mother hem, who lives in Banglore . And when they want to unwind? â€œYuvaan creates things with his building blocks and solving puzzles , while Akanshaa reads picture stories books and color the drawing books.â€œ
Hem does not attribute her children's way of life to tiger-mom tactics but to the fact that the family has kept them away from tablets, mobile phones and other screens. â€œWe made a conscious decision within family members not to entertain our children with on-screen distractions,â€œ she says.
Moving away from the modern-day parenting trend where cartoons and games make for nannies at home and play-school. Some of new age tech cautious parents are refusing to let their children bathe in the glow of computers, smartphones and tablets, day and night.
Hem says when she had her first child, she was influenced by other parents and showed her son nursery rhymes and talking games on the iPad when he was two.
As we got around the feeling and info from different parent that technology helps in growth and development of child, even â€œI felt it would make him a fast learner. However Soon I realized my daughter was looking for more and more videos and songs. Once I switch off the tablet or laptop after half hour ,she would start -crying and tantrums as like to other children hoping for more videos on tablet. By the time he turned four, I stopped all screen time. He now enjoys solving puzzles and crafting things with his play dough. It's only on Saturday and Sundays that gets an hour of screen time,â€œ says Hem, who kept her younger son away from screens from the start.
Many of these parents have come to learn that their children become apathetic and uninterested when not plugged in. â€œI believe a child should get bored and figure out ways to amuse herself,â€œ says Mitali, mother to a four-year-old. Technology is a very poor substitute for person al interaction,â€œ says Mitali, whose husband is a mobile phone application developer.
â€œDid you know Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent?Even Bill gates doesnâ€™t allow much technology to their kids. I guess tech parents have first-hand knowledge of the dangers of too much technology usage,â€œ she says.
Kolkata-based English teacher Shiladitya adopted a screen free policy for his children five years ago, but faced considerable flak from him. â€œRelative and family members ask us why we torture our children and deprive them of knowledge,â€œ he says. In order to go for screen-free : meant that the working couple had to put in extra effort and time to keep their children busy and away from gadegts, but he says it was worth it. Now, his five-year-old son spends hours with books, often reading them to his one-year-old sister too.
Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger Sandhya Menon ensures that her mobile phone is out of her children's sight as much as possible, and keeps them engaged with books, games, and art and craft projects. She believes her screen-free policy has helped them inculcate long-term habits and personality traits they wouldn't have otherwise.Once the time passes away , children will miss out the time they couldnâ€™t spend outside like us we do in our childhood.
â€œThey retain a certain innocence I see lost in other children their age,â€œ says Menon. â€œOne of the biggest things they have developed is observation, because they aren't looking at screens, they're looking at things around them.â€œ
Temper tantrums when devices were taken away and short attention spans were what prompted Tanaya, mother to 11-year-old Anamika and 13-year-old Riya, to prohibit any kind of non-academic use of the computer. â€œAs a treatâ€œ, she allows them to watch an hour of TV on weekends, though enforcing such a routine is increasingly difficult.
Conversations help children understand how screen habits may disconnect them from the real world. Though her children, aged 9 and 8, make daily requests to use the internet, Sandhya, who has decided to keep them screen free till the age of 13, finds it easy to convince them. â€œI remind them why we do this -so that we can develop other parts of their personality and minds.â€œ
According to Dr Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Healthcare, â€œParents need to be role models. If a parent is accustomed to having a mobile phone at the dinner table, kids are likely to emulate it.â€œ â€œWe moved our TV out of the living room to our bedroom,â€œ says Vidya, who sometimes finds herself surreptitiously checking her phone under the dinner table. â€œ And if we're caught, our daughters rebuke us.â€œ Parents also need to check their habits of using tech gadgets every time to live a better and good life.