Has Digitization Robbed Childhood Of Its Innocence?

Posted: December 11, 2017

Kids today are always on some gadget or social media, and have no time or interest in creating and nurturing personal relationships in the physical world. Isn’t this a problem?

7 am is a relatively peaceful time of the day in my house. It is also my most favourite part of the day. After the morning bedlam of packing lunch boxes and getting the kids ready for school, 7 am is a respite. The kids are off to school by then and I have time to indulge in a much needed mug of piping hot coffee whilst reading the morning newspaper.

Unfortunately, that morning was anything but peaceful. After shipping the kids off to school, I opened the morning paper to the headlines that a junior student had been stabbed to death in the school washroom by a senior high school student and all with the intent to postpone an exam!

Seriously, what? What has happened to childhood? Where is the innocence that enveloped it? Is this the level to which humanity has now devolved? And if yes, then who is to be blamed for this downward spiral? Do we blame the parents for the upbringing, the peers for the pressure exerted, the education system on the sheer stress that is handed down in the name of education currently; or social media and its influence on children?

Reading this, I could not but help reminisce about the simpler and more joyful childhood that I had.

I remember my childhood as a ridiculously happy phase of life. Sure, we too had to study, we had exams and projects and school schedules to meet but what was starkly absent was the presence of any broadcasting or social media. Even after televisions were introduced in India, cable TV made its entry a lot later. I remember gathering around the TV with my family to watch the national news or cartoons. If we were lucky, we were allowed to watch a movie during the weekend but that too post parental approval on the movie content.

Life was much simpler. Post school, there was a mad rush to complete homework and then off we went to play. There were no cell phones or intercoms connecting the neighbourhood or society. Telephones were far and few between. Friends did not call up at all random hours to beseech us to come out to play. We all just knew, with that internal clock that is so wired in our systems, that it was 5 pm and was time to go out and play. Play consisted of physical sports or board games unlike the video/online games available today. Sundown meant, we had to return back home and that we did, content with our social interactions.

I remember my childhood being filled with books. Admittedly there was no ‘Harry Potter’ or “Percy Jackson’. But, we did have Agatha Christie, Sir Aurther Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and Enid Blyton’s. We could sink into a book and transport ourselves into a fantasy world. Books were not just friends back then, they were portals that opened up our imagination, corrected our language and helped us shape our personality.

Dinner time was a family ritual where Maa served hot home cooked delicacies. It was at 8 pm and every member was expected to clean up and eat on the table together. On the dining table we indulged in idle banter or chattered away about our day spent. Dinner time was the time to rewind the day and connect with family. Life was easy and more structured. There was discipline and adherence to rules. Curfews were met religiously & deadlines were not broken. Such was our happy childhood.

The reality today is much different. Children today spend their time more in the virtual rather than the real world. The boon of “Digital technology” has come with drawbacks. Mealtimes have become solo activities partnered mostly with the cell phone. Kids nowadays are constantly on their phone – calling, chatting, texting or generally browsing.

Social interactions too are limited to video chats instead of physically calling on someone. This I believe has led to children leading individually isolated lives and contributes greatly to the mental health of a child. Family interactions too are limited as children today tend to shun family in preference to the virtual interactions. In keeping pace with the times, children have forgotten to pace out their lives. The onus of education, career and peer pressure has led to the creation of an adolescent who is looking for escape routes and is unfortunately coming up with disastrous consequences.

Published here earlier.

Image source: By Brad Flickinger [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons, for representational purposes only.

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