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Choose summer camps after checking kids’ interest

It is important for parents to choose vacation activities their children are interested in. Another option is to let children relax, do nothing, and recharge.

Before enrolling children in paid courses, it is advisable to opt for trial classes to guage their interest.Picture for representation purpose only. Dh photo by S K Dinesh

With the summer holidays here, parents are at their wits’ end to find enjoyable activities for their children.

The options for urban children living in concrete jungles are few—either opt for a summer camp or remain holed up at home, with smartphones and computers for company.

The rising dependence on gadgets is an alarming trend in IT city, as it takes a toll on children’s mental and physical health. Common related problems are obesity, depression and sleep deprivation.

Dr Debmita Dutta, parenting consultant and founder of the website ‘whatparentsask.com’, says overuse of gadgets makes children isolate themselves from the world.

“Research shows that these gadgets are just like other addictive substances — the more you use them, the more you want them. When you are on your device all the time, you forget how to interact with people and the world becomes a scary place,” she says.

Won’t result in better behaviour

Many parents give gadgets to their children to keep them happy in the hope that they will listen to them, behave nicely and sit quietly, says Dr Debmita.

However, children glued to the screen either never learn how to behave in the company of strangers or quickly forget what they have learnt earlier.

“So they end up throwing more tantrums, which confuses parents, many of whom are quite dedicated and affectionate. I have had children as young as four years old come to me with this problem of addiction to devices or junk food,” she says.

Parental pressure to attend camps

Dr Pavana Rao, clinical psychologist, Apollo Clinic, JP Nagar, says parents should understand a child’s capabilities before enrolling him or her to a camp.

This view is echoed by Dr Debmita, who says it is necessary to respect the decisions of a child.

“Children are usually very clear about what they want to do and what they don’t want to do. If a child is not interested in music, don’t sign him up for piano classes. If children are not interested, they find it harder to master a skill which in turn leads to frustration and crying,” she says. 

It is advisable to opt for some trial classes before enrolling a child. One can also go and watch other children in class to gauge the youngster’s interest.

Lack of play time is biggest challenge.

No matter how many classes or courses you have lined up for the child, planned activities are planned activities. “When you get the opportunity to play on your own, you choose your own challenge level. In camps or classes, you don’t have a choice. If you don’t participate or are slower than the rest, they will poke fun at you and ask you questions,” says Dr Debmita.

She believes vacations should be a time to recharge, when people don’t tell children what to do.

“Now you have children who are over-scheduled and overworked because of all the things they have to do during vacations,” she says.

 

Why you should be concerned

- One in six people between 10-19 years in India is suffering from depression.

- Over 84 per cent of children and teenagers are sleep deprived.

- According to a report, every psychiatrist gets about 3-4 cases of Internet addiction in a month, with patients between 8 and 18.

- The 2016 National Mental Health Survey of India showed mental disorders to be nearly double in urban metros when compared to rural areas.

- In a recent study, researchers from Cardiff University found 72 per cent of children and 95 per cent of adolescents have at least one device in their room, and most use it near bedtime.

- India has one of the highest suicide rates among those between 15 and 19.

 

What’s good for kids with working parents?

Short vacations in and around the city, spending time with family, visiting grandparents and relatives, involving the entire family in swimming, and indoor and outdoor games are some options. “The most important factor is to reduce screen time as much as possible. Parents should censor screen time as they do during school days, but can maybe allow an extra half an hour as it is vacation time,” says counsellor Dr Pavana.

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