Friday 27 April 2018

Problems of Screen Time - Talk by Yograj Patel, IIT-B Alum & Co-founder of Gyankriti

At the time of the admission interview, many parents hear a detailed talk on why Al Qamar Academy strongly advocates a No-Screen policy for its students.

Over the years, we have observed children with certain habits - inability to concentrate, memory issues, behavioral problems, lack of interest in learning, hyperactivity, difficulty in reading etc. Kids have health and sleep issues, eating issues and tantrums.  

In many cases, we can directly co-relate these to exposure to the screen from an early age.  The unfortunate fact of the matter is that in many cases the damage seems irreversible.  The problem is exacerbated  with children accessig screens at a younger and younger age.  Almost 100% of our new applicants state their kids spend 1-2 hours daily on some sort of a screen!!  I shudder to think what's going to happen as these kids grown older.

Parents are the ones who introduce children to devices.  For a variety of reasons - ranging from not having adequate time for the kids, as an incentive for eating, as a e-babysitter. Some parents think that devices help the child acquire or consolidate learning.  The price is paid later - by the child and the parent - when the child fails to learn academically and socially.

So, how do you detox the kids? 

The first - don't even start. Your phone, computer or tablet are your property. Not the child's. The child should not have access to these. As an analogy, would you let your child have unfettered access to your kitchen - with the knives, the gas stove and the matches? The answer is probably a resounding "No". Treat your devices with the same caution.

If the child has already started using devices, start slowing restricting access and reducing the time.  And ensure that when s/he is on the screen, you are right there with him/her - watching and interacting.  

Then provide alternatives. At Al Qamar we emphasise chores for kids - however young they may be - folding clothes, washing dishes, tidying rooms, sweeping. All these activities help build independence and a sense of responsibility.

Another way is to develop the reading habit - have books at home, read often to your child, spend time reading yourself, visit libraries and bookshops. There are many second hand book sales happening constantly in Chennai. A Rs. 30 investment in a book pays huge dividends later.  

Let the child have lots of time for free and unstructured play - painting, blocks, card board boxes, waste paper, home made dough, craft activities, running, cycling, walking - all the stuff we did as children prior to the arrival of the all pervasive screen.

Spend time with your kid conversing. This is a great way to build life long bonds, instill self confidence, provide "real" life exposure and pass on your personal / family culture and values.  

Do watch this wonderful video by Yograj Patel, an IIT-B alumnus and co-founder of Gyankriti - an alternative school in Indore.  Clearly and succinctly he explains the various issues with screen time and how to detox your child.

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