Gadget addiction

It used to be said, that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. In the olden days, this applied a lot to the child who, due to sheer boredom or for want of anything else to do, would resort to naughty or mischievous ways and, duly get into trouble. But then, those were days when gadgets didn’t occupy his mind, when the three R’s would keep him busy and, only if his leisure hours were not planned well, the ‘devil’s workshop’ would get into an overdrive mode.

In a recent radio program, the guest on a show mentioned that, in the West, there is a move to ban mobile phones in classrooms, especially in schools. They felt that today’s children don’t know how to feel bored as, any spare time between lessons are occupied by mindless games, chatting, messaging and browsing on the mobiles. So much so, the child has lost the art of being creative.

The educationists feel that boredom is good for the child as it would prompt him to do more creative things with his mind and hands, an art that seems to be lost among the present generation. Very true. Do we draw or doodle or sketch or even write, for that matter?

Boredom, they feel, will lead the child to put pen to paper, use his imagination, his creativity and his time to come up with sensible things in the ‘brick and mortar’ world. Drawing, for instance, is an art that is best depicted when the imaginative mind transfers the creativity through the hands and fingers to paper. Writing is an art that improves not just the handwriting but also makes your brain work hard to come up with words and sentences, an art that is lost to messaging with predictive text. Painting or sketching is an art that uses your photographic memory of what you have seen to get transferred to paper or canvas. Phone cameras and Instagram has deprived the children of today of using their built-in memory.

While, in Indian schools, there are restrictions on use of gadgets in classrooms, the instant the children are out of school or back in their homes, gadgets of all sorts surface. Mobile phones, tablets, game consoles…you name it…they are all available to them, largely thanks to unconcerned parent/s. Earlier, when it was only television that was a distraction, time slots could be provided for the child to watch programs; but not anymore. Every sort of entertainment is available on the mobile phone, today. If the parent does not restrict the use of these gadgets during the formative years of a child when it is imperative that reading and imbibing knowledge is very important in the traditional way, then, when the child grows into an adult, he will be totally dependent on machines to run his life.

Reciting multiplication tables have long since disappeared, thanks to calculators. Browsing the encyclopedia is a lost art, thanks to Google and Wikipedia. Handwriting notes is already vanishing thanks to dictation software which can be used on PCs and laptops and increasingly on mobile phones too. Reading the daily news is thing of the past, with news popping up on gadgets, every second. Do we want our future generations to turn into robots? Incidentally, robots are becoming more intelligent than humans, thanks to us!

It is not too late to turn the tide. And, it is not difficult to strike a balance between technology and tradition to derive the best benefits for our future generations.

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