'Children have unfortunately made themselves comfortable with technology and they are not realizing the harmful effects of it on their physical and mental health as well as their social growth. '
Online learning or virtual classrooms may have helped children to continue learning in the testing times. However, continued exposure to screens and limited outdoor activities have brought forward some significant behavioral changes among them that are harmful for their overall physical and emotional growth. Throwing light on the major challenges of continued or extended online learning or staying indoors, Govind Narayan Singh, Secretary, Gopal Narayan Singh University shared his observations and solutions to protect children from their dangerous impact in an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online. Excerpts:
Virtual classrooms have transformed children into introverts. Have you seen the change in students that you deal with?
The reason behind children becoming more reserved, restricted or even introverts is that they have spent a long duration in their homes in this new normal where meetings and outdoor activities were restricted. Social interaction at this juncture has reduced to the lowest levels and the young minds have now found gadgets as their new friends. No doubt, technology in this time is playing a very important role but the span of attention towards gaming and other online activities have gone up drastically which has limited activities like book reading or outdoor and sports activities. The health of students is getting greatly affected owing to these factors. Also, lack of interaction is also affecting their mental health. Creativity may have gone up but lack of personal touch in communication is missing.
Children are more addicted and comfortable with technology these days. Why are they shying away from using technology to make new friends then?
Children have unfortunately made themselves comfortable with technology and they are not realizing the harmful effects of it on their physical and mental health as well as their social growth. They can’t make friends within peer groups due to restrictions. The young minds don’t understand the nuances of social media and how it hampers their social life. The increasing friendliness with gadgets is even belittling the values of friendships and for them now it carries very little meaning. Today, value education is missing in homes as families are fragmented. Addiction to technology is driving the children towards loneliness which has increased during the pandemic. Additionally, Covid has developed a fear of psychosis in families and hence most of the children are isolated from making friends.
Is there a way by which children can be reintroduced to the outdoor world and motivated to make new friend and get in regular contact with them?
To make sure that children don’t lose their contact with the outdoor world and continue to grow socially by making friends, it is important to fix how much time they spend on gadgets or indoors. While online education has become a part of the new normal , total online education must be discouraged and hybrid models should be adopted. Sports not only makes children fit but it also teaches many life lessons which can be helpful in the future. So, sporting habits should be encouraged among the young minds. The Cove cases are declining and vaccination is picking up and in this scenario, small social gatherings in a safe environment can be organized and encouraged. Junior group mentoring should be started and schools should also come ahead with innovative ways for engagements like subject clusters. Students should be also made aware of their social duties and can be asked to address their local or social issues or problems in villages.
What problems can children face in their personality, day-to-day activities and overall development if they get scared from talking to their peers?
Problems in children’s complete personality development are a reason for poor comprehension of the environment around them. With this, the thinking ability of them to solve problems cannot see an upsurge. The mind doesn’t grow with the body. Also, lesser development of healthy relations with the opposite gender is also a factor. Owing to these, materialism breeds within young minds and they don’t care about values like respecting and helping the needy. Furthermore, it drastically reduces the empathy quotient which is critical for growth as a good and responsible citizen.
How can the college and teachers help students fight this shift?
The only way is to take them out of their homes so that they can grow as social beings and can become aware of their responsibilities and importance in the society. They should be encouraged to play more games and engage themselves in team building and physical activities. They should be sensitised about the problems existing in the society and should be encouraged to essay their social duties. Furthermore, their positive endeavour towards bringing a visible change in the society and community networking should also be incentivised.