09 Jul Save Our Kids from the New Drug—Screen Time
Screen time is one of the most common complaints of today’s parents and guardians. Yes, there was a need to specify ‘today’s parents’ because children and teenagers in the earlier days were more inclined toward playing outdoor sports, reading books, and enjoying non-electronic, face-to-face conversations with their friends and family.
In the 21st century, people have somehow lost the human touch and utterly failed to maintain the closeness that we as humans need. There is no doubt we have taken communication to a ridiculously advanced level. The irony is that even though we have highly sophisticated communication systems at the tip of our fingers, yet we have become so distant from each other. And longer screen time is one of the problems to blame.
Can COVID-19 lockdown justify increased screen time?
Absolutely not. There are ‘n’ number of things to do as a child and as an adult during a nationwide lockdown. Self-evaluation, book reading, exercise, meditation, playing intelligent indoor games, and discovering new hobbies and interests are some of the better activities to consider than staring at a TV or phone screen.
The COVID-19 situation has changed the educational and work systems overall. Students now study and appear for examinations online. The ‘work from home’ trend has shown a sudden sharp spike ever since lockdowns kicked in. Therefore, there is already an increase in screen time for people in different age groups. Any additional screen time will only make the situation worse for households.
Internet addiction: From epidemic to pandemic?
Almost a decade ago, Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development director, Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis published a study titled, “Internet Addiction: A 21st Century Epidemic?” Are we waiting for internet addiction to become a pandemic? It is high time that we take heed of the screen time problem and implement appropriate measures to control, if not reduce, it. Applying the 20-20 or 10-10 rule to protect the eyes, avoiding continuous use of screens, and setting reminders to follow healthy screen time practices are some of the basic precautions to take.
Today, we desperately need parental guidance in digital learning for children. Parents should ensure their kids are not stressed due to long online study hours. Furthermore, digital wellness, netiquettes, positive digital footprints, and digital citizenship values should be upheld at any cost. Lastly, with increased presence of children and teenagers online, cyber hygiene and cybersecurity issues must be addressed today more than any time before.