“It takes a village to raise a child” is an old African proverb which implies that it takes the influence, guidance, help, support and supervision of many a people to raise a child. With the rapid advancement in technology and the pandemic doubtlessly making us more dependent on technology for communication and other needs, kids barely get to know other grown-up humans for real. Most of their time is consumed by online classes and online assignments from school. They may be isolated physically but they unavoidably have a virtual circle of people. They interact with teachers, classmates and even strangers over social media on a daily basis. This is the modern virtual village that shapes their mentality, behaviour, personality and experiences as they grow up.
Children are the fastest learners and absorb quickly whatever gets in their way. They pick up on habits that their family members and elders follow. Vice is the quickest to amuse them. Something wrong, something exciting, something mischievous will always be a candy to their eyes and it will not take them long to go down the wrong path while you struggle to bat an eyelid.
We, as parents, not only want to set examples for our kids but also try our best to keep them from committing the same mistakes as us. Sadly, our kids are growing up in a world which deprives them of meaningful human connections. They are so caught up in activities, academics and in the rat race to scamper to the top that they miss out on life. They should be made to take a step back and smile. Take them or send them on a surprise date with their favourite adults such as an uncle, aunt or grandparent, to their favourite place. Read books. Introduce them to your old friends. Teach them to enjoy and spend quality time with others. These activities will not only help them build healthier relationships but also let them know that they are loved by many. It will also strengthen and enhance their interpersonal and life skills. They will learn to value human relationships, long for people they love and most importantly, to be happy. We should take an initiative to give them the human village of people to grow up around which in turn might prove to be substantial in rearing them up.
For starters, we can limit or reduce their screentime usage. It might be a little difficult to get them to lessen the usage of gadgets but it will be worth it. To bring your child to
appreciate spending time doing things that he or she is less likely to do, you might need to be a little assertive and play the villain. You might as well resort to a concept known as dopamine detox which works as a detox but for one’s brain. Ask your child to stop doing things that they love to indulge themselves in such as being too active on social media or playing online games for endless hours. It could be anything. When they are prevented from doing something that they enjoy most, out of boredom and sheer helplessness, they will start liking and looking forward to participating in activities that they otherwise find less interesting or as a matter of fact, absolutely mundane. Boredom will drive them to develop and pique a genuine interest in activities like reading books and interacting with people on their own.
Parental control and vigilance over your child’s offline activities is in their best interest. However, that does not mean one should not trust his or her own child at all. Disciplined smart phone usage makes a child value time and work. Parental control and well being applications can restrict phone usage by locking your child’s phone after the stipulated time. These apps can be very useful when you are not around to invigilate. You can keep a check on the online duration of application usage and other details while
your child operates the mobile phone. Limiting gadget usage will also keep the child from getting frequent headaches or having to wear glasses, etc.
Earlier, when life used to be simpler and had a more human touch to it, children grew up in joint families. Even for children from nuclear families, mixing up with people in the society was a must. It helped kids to process and juggle a variety of emotions, thoughts, actions and their behaviour in general. There were grandparents to look after children and tell them stories to enrich their imagination. There were cousins to play around and be with. Everyone had to learn how to adjust and compromise. To be happy, one had to learn to live selflessly. There was a lesson in every stage of life to invoke virtues in the growing fathers of the nation. Nowadays, most kids grow up as single children and mostly with single parents. There are very few people to be found in the modern world who are patient enough to make relationships and bonds last life-long. Broken marriages of parents, broken families who do not have the time or energy to show up, forgive or make children feel constantly special, are taking a toll on their mental health. Depression rates in children and adolescents are increasing more than ever. Children resort to seeking comfort from a virtual world where they can not even filter the real from fake.
It is therefore very essential that parents take care of what their children are getting themselves into. We can take measures and let our children know that we care.