What's their age again?

What's their age again?

With technology moving at a phenomenal speed, there is a new ‘toy’ out almost every other day to amuse oneself with. This though, seems to have brought about a huge change in children and teenagers of the modern day.

caught Young children, addicted to gizmos are losing out on crucial years of their lives.When previously, a 12-year-old could be seen playing merrily in a park, climbing trees, the modern day child is too busy playing games on a recently upgraded iPad. And with content of all sorts, freely available to these adolescents, it is hardly surprising that they appear far more precocious than ever before.

Some parents are even happy to leave children to their gadgets and gizmos just to have them out of the way. Siddarth J, father of a seven-year-old boy, says that if his son didn’t have the iPad to distract him, he would be uncontrollable. “When the family goes for an outing, the only way to keep my boy from creating havoc is by giving him the ‘pad’. He’s so engrossed in it that there’s thankfully no time for mischief,” he says.

Others, however, are appalled at the way teenagers find it essential to have the latest phones and gadgets as if they are a symbol of their status. So much so that if they don’t have anything flashy like an iPad or a smartphone to flaunt, they are ostracised. Sapana Appaiah, a part-time wedding planner and full-time mother, says that she has to make a conscious effort to keep her children away from this new craze of technology. “My daughter is one of the few kids in her school who doesn’t have a phone. If I were to give her one, she’d become obsessed like the others her age and soon become detached from reality. Eighty per cent of the children are out of control. I’d rather she had a few down-to-earth friends than several ‘wannabe’ types.” She does, however, mention that technology within limitations would possibly make youngsters more aware. “But it’ll have to be strictly controlled which I think it’s already too late for,” she adds.

But the issue goes deeper than just technology. According to child psychologist Sanjana Mudappa, this alarming change in children is also the result of almost blasé parenting, “Parents think that giving in to their children’s whims makes them cool. And the kids think by mimicking adults, they become adults,” she says. Under the wrong assumption that drinking, smoking and partying makes them adult-like, children do as they see their parents and older relatives do. That, according to Sanjana, is very harmful in shaping the personality of these children. And in addition to being irrational and incorrect, it gives these youngsters a false sense of identity. “Teenagers and even younger children have grown up quicker than is necessary or even healthy. They have no sense of who they really are,” she says.

Reflecting a similar belief, Ivy D’Souza, a teacher at a well-known ICSE school, says children are more and more confused these days due to the fact that with technology, they are living in an almost virtual world.

“These kids are losing about 10 crucial years of their lives. It’s an unreal jump in mentality from 12 to 20. And unfortunately, I don’t see that changing for a long while – in fact, it may just get worse,” she laments.

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