Instances of conflicts between parents and their tech-obsessed wards, poor social interaction and worsening of basic skills are some of the consequences of addiction to and excessive use of technology among children in India, experts warn.
And it is not just a child health issue but a public health concern as well, National Indian Public Health Association President J. Ravi Kumar said.
“Technologies like the internet, smartphones and electronic gadgets like gaming consoles, tablets and the like are essential for development, but the side-effects of overuse is a concern for public health,” Ravi Kumar told IANS.
He said this has brought to the fore the importance for parents to be aware of the extent to which they themselves spend time on gadgets.
“Children tend to follow what their elders do. So when they see parents working for long hours on their laptops, they are bound to get influenced.
“This, in turn, results in conflicts: when parents try to limit their children’s exposure to electronic devices, they are smart enough to question why the elders are tinkering with their laptops so much,” Ravi Kumar said.
While for pre-teens, the attractions are mainly video games and gaming apps, for teens, social networking and internet activity (on smartphones or computers) are the top draw, said Manoj Kumar Sharma, associate professor at the Department of Clinical Psychology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore.
Sharma said the institute’s SHUT clinic (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) receives three to four mails per week from other states of India – from parents of teenagers – enquiring about the service as well as possibility of online help or telephone counselling.
Counselling was sought by parents in the wake of declining academic grades, behavioural changes in the form of irritability or angry outbursts when restricted in usage of technology by adults, said Sharma.