As a millennial, I spend most of my time on the phone. One small machine is responsible for my happiness. It educates me, entertains me when I’m bored, and helps me when I’m stuck in difficult situations.
Therefore, I can comfortably say that it is the boon of my existence. But before I could get my hands on the phone, I had to learn to live a life without it.
I am a 2000s kid. Back then, if your parents had a blackberry or Nokia flip phone, you were the coolest. I didn't have an affiliation with phones as a kid. There were probably times when I grabbed my parents' phones and tossed them. Apart from that, I knew nothing about phones. But, not to say that I didn’t have my share of fun. I had a plastic Barbie phone that would sing a song every time I pressed the button. That is it. That was my first interaction with a mobile until years later when I completed my 10th grade and got a phone.
Now let me tell you why I am writing this article.
As a kid, I am sure the moment you started crying, your mom or dad would put a pacifier in your mouth, and you would chew on it silently.
Today, that pacifier has been replaced by phones. The first time I realized this, I was shaken. I did not understand how phones could become so important in the life of a child.
Phones have indeed become an essential part of our being, but why should they become an essential part of a small child’s life?
Let me tell you how I realized that phones are today, used by parents as pacifiers.
On a bright Monday morning, I went to my ophthalmologist taking along with me my Monday blues and my phone. My ophthalmologist is a pediatric doctor. Do not laugh at me, I have been going there since I was 3 years old. Never thought of changing the doctor! (If you have watched the show, friends, you’d understand that pediatric doctors give you a treat even if you are a past teenager)
Getting back to the point, I was the only adult among 10 children who were waiting in the lobby. The moment I sat on the chair, I pulled my phone out and started texting. Minutes later, I saw a child crying. the child must have been just a year old. Her mom got up from her chair. I should warn you, I could look naïve here. I thought the mom would pick up her baby and take her outside for a stroll. Instead, she got up to take out her phone from her jeans pocket and handed it to the baby.
It shocked me to see the baby stop crying immediately. I pondered about it for 5 seconds and moved on because who am I to judge?
Minutes later, a 3-year-old started crying because the compound had put a drop in her eye. Immediately, the parent pulled out a phone from her handbag and handed it to the kid. This kid, who was, a minute ago crying because of the drops, managed to open her eye a little to play Peppa Pig. Don’t ask me how I know of Peppa pig.
Although I was surprised, I turned away as I realized I was staring at her mom with my jaw wide open. As I immersed back into the world that my phone is, I saw more parents do the same.
Each time, the kid would stop crying immediately. I never thought that phones could play such an important role in the life of a child who is hardly 1-6 years old.
This sparked a fire in me. I became more observant and noticed that all millennial parents did this. The moment a child starts crying, they are handed a smartphone.
Finally, after wondering for a while, I went up to the parents and asked them if they thought it was okay to hand their children phones at such a young age. They answered, “of course. Phones are extremely important, children must learn to use them.”
I was surprised. I was not expecting that. In my opinion, children shouldn’t be comforted with phones. They shouldn’t be habituated to a phone at such a young age. Today, many options on the internet are disturbing and inappropriate.
You may now say, how would a kid know to use the internet. Let me tell you, kids today are way more intelligent than we were. Back then, we were all dumb kids who played with clay. Kids today use advanced voice controls.
My 6-year-old cousin has a phone of his own and knows how to handle it better than I ever could.
I agree that phones are important. But what I find baffling is 3-year-olds spending all their time on a mobile watching a cartoon.
When I approached the parents of a 4-year-old with a phone, they said they do not have the time to take their children out for a walk or to the park, so they let their kids play with a phone because why play out when we can afford a phone?
Although I am a millennial, I feel it is wrong to hand a child a phone to play with at such a tender age. They are just stepping into the communicative world and trying to learn human interactions. If taught to use a phone, they will lose the connection they could have formed with other humans and nature.
I often see children on their phones during a family function rather than all children getting together and playing, as we did back in the day. They are stuck to their chairs and sofas, play violent games, and watch weird videos on youtube because they don't know anything else to do. They are little innocent bees attracted to the sweet perfume of mobile phones. One must divert these bees towards flowers so that they understand how to interact with humans and enjoy the beauty of nature.
It pains me to see that they are wasting their precious childhood moments for a device that will forever be in existence.
I understand that phones have images, colors, and sound to stimulate minds, but no child should be subjected to watching a screen for so long.
Once addicted to phones, it takes a lot of effort to lose that habit. Children are stuck at home with their phones, and it harms their health. With no physical exercise, children may become obese. No human interaction makes them less confident and lowers their self-esteem. Children also find it hard to interact with other children because they haven’t learned the art of making human relations.
The pandemic has indeed changed the world for the worse, but it is also true that if you have the will and the patience, you could still divert your child towards a healthier environment. Today, we are all at a better place with the pandemic slowly dying, so should not we all get back to teaching kids how to play with clay and sand instead of playing free fire and call of duty?
In conclusion, I would like to ask you your opinion. Do you think phones are a boon or a bane concerning children?
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