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The topic this article is about is perhaps one of the most common problems a mother of the current generation faces- smartphone addiction. Like all mothers, I tried to be a "technologically-advanced mom" to my little daughter. When she was an infant, I used to hum or sing some simple rhymes to her at bedtime. "Johnny Johnny Yes Papa" was her favorite! She would squeal with delight whenever I sang that song. Eventually, I started playing the rhyme on YouTube and my daughter would watch it keenly. Soon she moved on to viewing other such rhymes and songs. She learnt about many things from these videos such as the Alphabets, colors, fruits, animals, and so on. I had assumed that since the videos she was viewing were purely educational, there was no harm done. And while she spent time on the smartphone, I could quickly sort out the household chores in peace.
Naturally, I was very much beside myself with pride, when I noticed my 2 year old daughter casually pick up my smartphone and swipe her way effortlessly into YouTube to watch videos of her favorite rhymes or cartoons. Well, the most I did in that age was to make a mess of the house! But it wasn't until much later I realized how wrong I was. The very thing that I expected to help on the development and molding of my daughter had slowly started to affect her behavior.
My daughter was never a troublesome child. She was always patient and would listen to and obey whatever I say. Tantrum-throwing was far and few and would immediately subside with my intervention. But then, as her smartphone addiction grew, so did her tantrums. She slowly stopped playing with her toys, preferring instead to curl up on the couch with the smartphone in her hand. Any attempt to grab the phone from her to make a call or text would end up in a huge tantrum. Distracting her from the phone was a huge task. I tried coaxing, yelling, and everything I could to stop her using the phone but to no avail.
Eventually I decided to speak to my child's pediatrician in this regard. He explained that since the brain development of a child is completed before 5 years of age (you might know that already from Kajol announcing in this fact in the Bournvita Lil Champs advert!), the environment he/she is exposed to in this age matters a lot. A healthy, stress-free, playful environment sans gadgets is very essential. Continuous exposure to gadgets numbs the mind and leads to an almost ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder)- like effect on the child. This declaration left me feeling numb. He advised to keep my child off smartphones at any cost.
I immediately googled facts regarding this topic and found that I was not the only mother to face this issue. After some research, I tried to put up some pointers to ensure that our children have a gadget-free upbringing:
I can totally understand that these pointers might be difficult to follow, especially in households where both parents are working, but trust me, simple efforts put in your child's development at this age might save you from a lot of trouble like behavioral disorders later on in life. I myself am still facing issues in weaning my daughter off the smartphone, but I have decided to stand my ground and do it no matter how many tantrums I'd have to face. After all, I'd rather have my daughter stick her nose in a book than a smartphone!
Happy Parenting Folks! :)