Play Not on Your Kid’s Mind

We are bringing up a whole new generation of whizkids. Great! But, is this good for kids?

Child playing video game

Ask any kid today what s/he does in his/her leisure time and the invariable answer is watching television or, even more popular, sitting in front of the computer. This is the most common story of an average school-going child, with no gender restriction and no age bar at all.

With urban lifestyles increasingly encompassing electronic gadgets as household appliances, children have access to the Information Superhighway at an early age. The potential to learn beyond the curriculum is limitless. But, is there a greater price to be paid for evolving a generation of whizkids? Go figure!

Health problems

Lifestyle issues that beset people in middle age are now progressively being observed in the much younger stratum of society. Obesity and diseases such as hypertension and diabetes are only set to rise when children are encouraged to snack at the fast-food counter instead of relishing natural fruits and fibre. It is a potentially catastrophic scenario for young children to have to learn to live with disease while shaping their young, formative lives.

Too much exposure to play stations and computers creates a rather lonely environment where social skills of interaction, empathy and involvement are deficient in the all-round development of a child. Is it not more worthwhile to encourage the child to play and mix with other children in the park than sending them to personality development classes and, thereby, not increasing their burden of running around tuition schools?

The kind of money required to maintain today's lifestyle must also be brought to bear on the child. Contrary to the notion that children are too young to be burdened by facts and figures, kids today are well-equipped to absorb the most complicated of information. Taking them into confidence would only create a sense of awareness and consciousness required to understand certain parameters around them.

End blackmail

Parents would do well to deter from emotional blackmail. The fact is - children are rather unequivocal. They tend to emulate behaviour and understand what type of behaviour produces a required response. To cave in to the child's demand for attention by showering him/her with gadgetry beyond one's means of financial understanding is a plot waiting to explode.

Besides obvious hazards, children are, as a consequence of their persistent unhealthy lifestyle, shoved into gyms. While exercising is good for all ages, many doctors are wary of advising young children to have access to the use of heavy weights and gym equipment for fear of damage to young and tender bones. Taking natural recourse to running, playing, jogging or simply walking would be a healthier outlet for the child. If there be a companion to do it with, perhaps, it gives an opportunity to talk about his/her feelings and a valuable insight to life.

Take care of the small stuff

The next time you see your child fiddling around with the mobile phone, or stuck for hours at the computer, gently coax him/her to invite a friend or neighbour for a game or two in the compound or the park. This is a much better health and lifestyle option for your growing child.

Pressure on Kids...

Children are often pressurised to outdo their age, what with knowledge required to do so being the norm. With educational channels vying for space on television and information available at the click of the muse in hand, children have both the means and motivation to grow up much faster than any previous generation. This has caused the brightest of adults to gape in astonishment as the child narrates facts that adults, having access to information, have either ignored or failed to internalise.

Today's kids define their time with other children, outside school hours, as going for movies, hanging out at the pizza parlour, or spending time at the amusement park equipped with the latest electronic games and play stations. But, while children deem their predecessors as old-fashioned when asked to go to the playground, there is this development of a trend that could potentially boomerang on their long-term health and well-rounded growth.

... And, parents

Parents, despite leading double income households, also feel pressurised to atone for their absence by doling out money in amounts which children fail to fathom. There is a trend of expensive recreation without learning the value of what it takes to earn that kind of money. While this is a dangerous scenario that is shaping up in our very individualistic, materialistic world, it is not a healthy road to maturity. Rather, the child is playing to his rights as an adult without taking on the responsibility. Children have so much access to information that their misguided interpretation would nullify the parents' word. This leads to disharmony and emotional grievance of untold nature. The effect of it all is not only destabilising our civilised society, but also harmful for the development of the child into a healthy, responsible adult.

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Sreelata Yellamrazu
Sreelata S Yellamrazu, a management graduate, is a sports columnist. She hopes her writing proves liberating for her, and also provides a voice for important life issues - especially young minds.

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