The Flipside Of Internet

flipside of Internet

Too much, too soon, too bad

Internet was invented to make the world a smart place, but its flipside is that it is making us dependent on our gadgets. A trend that is influencing our children for the worse.

A friend recently quit her job in Mumbai to go back to her hometown, Kolkata with her school going son, while her husband will stay back in Mumbai. Intrigued, I asked for the rationale since Mumbai is where everyone wants to be, it’s the land of opportunities or so they say, isn’t it? The couple state that their son used to be a shy boy. Now, his friend circle includes guys who can spend a good amount of money on watching movies in multiplexes, flaunt brands, go out for rides, using fancy smart phones and other such things. Their son, they feel, is getting influenced by all this show-off, hence has become demanding. Still in his 10th standard, he wants a smart phone just like his friends. They were particularly alarmed by the screen time of their son online. It turned out a good number of these friends were not his real friends, but he met them via social media. The parents have taken this step to ensure back in Kolkata, with their relatives and family friends all around, their son would not miss his friends and will also start concentrating on his studies.

A good thing or bad, can’t really say. Yet, it points to a growing breed of youngsters who fancy such a high life, thanks to the influences they are getting exposed to via technology and peer pressure. They are seeing things at an age that we never saw till we grew up to realize that we don’t really need them. I too wonder how my daughter will cope with these influences when she grows up. Ideally, I would want her to develop love for reading, enjoy the fine arts, and be sociable. Will she grow up with these interests or will she like many others fall into the trap of considering her online identity as her real one. Yet, like a hopelessly positive person, I do feel my daughter will be able to strike a balance between her real life and the online life. But, the onus of it falls on her parents alone.

Parents can and do help wire their child’s mind, which is first on the list of positive parenting. If they themselves use a lot of internet, the children will end up emulating their parents. A friend recently told me how their three-year-old son won’t sleep without playing games on his father’s iPad. That’s because instead of sleeping with a book or family talk, his father sleeps with his iPad playing online games. The son gets it from him. I am quite sure, that’s the case with many modern day parents. Hectic work lives mean once they are home, they want to have some peace of mind. Their choice of relaxation could be playing online games, watching TV or checking their social media account. When a child sees this, he would try and do the same thinking this is the right thing to do.

That’s not all. We all know the dangers of using internet too much. Many children become social recluses when their screen time gets out of hand. I am ashamed to admit that sometimes, in fact most of the times, I am checking my mail and messages on my phone when I should just be concentrating on interacting with my daughter. No wonder, my girl just laps up the laptop when she gets a chance. I am a big advocate of shopping for things online, however, I have seen that once I start browsing the online sites, I end up spending more time than I intend to, like a lot of my friends. A distant relative realised that his obsession with online shopping was rubbing off on his 11-year-old son whose major browsing activity included e-commerce websites. The son also started turning to Google for all his queries as he saw his father too would just log on for any query related to his school projects.

These are nothing but clarion calls for us parents to stop when there is still time lest we want our kids to start taking the online world for real. After all, the pleasures of a simple real life are always better where children learn from the world around them on their own or by extensive reading instead of becoming dependent on their gadgets for answers to life’s questions. Isn’t this what positive parenting all about?

 

About the author

Anu Bhambhani

Having worked with some of the leading names in the publishing industry, Anu is now an independent editorial consultant. After working for over 11 years, she is now working from home to be able to look after her little girl. When she is not writing (her first love), she is happy cooking, reading and learning nursery rhymes, a new one everyday to keep her toddler entertained and of course taking family vacations!

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