From entertainment to ordering groceries, everything has become so easy and at our fingertips that we have forgotten the real value of physical activity indulgence and how physical activity has a positive impact on your life. As tablets and smartphones almost become extensions of our bodies, childhood too has been reinvented in the 21st century. Technology now serves as the digital umbilical cord, right from our toddlers to our teens. This meteoric rate on digital platforms has left parents playing catch-up.
Dr Prakash Chandra Shetty, Urologist, Hiranandani Hospital, Powai, Mumbai explains, “Spending continuous hours in front of screens leads to sedentary behavior, which lowers levels of physical activity. Not indulging in a regular habit of doing exercise results in diseases like obesity and hypertension.”
While technology offers multiple learning opportunities, concerns around shorter attention spans, diminished social skills, and tech dependence loom large. According to Mr. Sandeep Kumar, Founder & Managing Director – Baatu Tech, “As one study from Common Sense Media reveals that more than 50% of children under the age of 8 have their tablet, these questions feel more timely than ever.”
With mindful and positive guidance, parents can equip kids to thrive in a hyper-connected world. Here shared by Mr Sandeep are a few parenting tips for the digital age!
Lead by example, not decree
Before burdening kids with rigid device rules, audit your technology hygiene as adults. Are we constantly distracted by pings or unable to have a family dinner without a phone on the table? If yes then we may be setting the wrong example. Children model behaviour more than instructions.
Define Family Digital Guidelines
Proactively make collective rules around usage times, online conduct, and balance. Protect personal time by designating tech-free family rituals like shared meals and outings. It is also helpful to create lists of websites and platforms that can and cannot be logged on to. Devices that send alerts when ‘prohibited pages’ are accessed can be helpful allies in this regard.
It is also important to empower kids by explaining the reasons behind limitations and letting them give input on policies.
Promote digital literacy
Have open discussions about identifying misinformation online, protecting personal data, avoiding interactions with strangers, and cyberbullying, just as we teach road safety. Share techniques for using fact-checking sites and secure passwords. Also teach children the basics, like how wifi works or what makes viruses dangerous, to demystify technology and spark interest!
Keep tech exploratory, creative, and active
Seek out educational apps spanning science, math, geography, and more for enriching reinforcement. Creative tools like music mixing software or art filters turn screens into canvases for self-expression and problem-solving—perfect for budding digital Picassos!
To prevent mindless consumption, encourage kids to research passion projects or learn new skills via online tutorials. Let them proudly present PowerPoints or short films they made to the extended family.
Set usage times and assess fatigue
While apps offer engaging learning opportunities, child development experts underscore the irreplaceable impact of face-to-face interaction and hands-on play for young minds. Therefore, it is the onus of parents to ensure that device usage does not cut off at this time.
The possibilities for both profound risks and rewards are only a click away. But by cultivating emotional intelligence and wisdom in our children first, parents already hold the secret password to redirect technology in service of their needs, not the other way around.