At the activity centre we let the children play, socialise, explore, think and have fun with certain activities
— Deepika Arun, founder of Jhoola Activity Centre, Nanganallur
Giving a gadget-free childhood is a dream for every parent out there. But many think it is impossible and introduce their kids to high-end gadgets from a very young age. When many say it is an impractical task, this young teacher from the city begs to differ. Deepika Arun started Jhoola Activity Centre in Nanganallur with an aim to ‘rescue’ childhood of children from the tight grip of television and other gadgets.
“While I was teaching in a school, I found that children as young as five years old talking about various gadgets and how they find it entertaining. Once, childhood (after school) was about spending endless time outside the house playing with siblings and children from the neighbourhood. But today, children have a mechanised life and do not have time to explore or have real fun,” Deepika tells us.
Seeing this alarming state, she quit her profession and started Jhoola Activity Centre, where she provides after-school activity classes, event and workshops on interesting topics. “We just let children be themselves and give them the space to decide what they wanted to do. We let them play, socialise, explore, think and have fun with certain activities. This will help children reinvent themselves, find out their passion, identify new hobbies and learn essential life skills. We also encourage children above five years of age to try out various arts and crafts,” she explains.
We constantly complain how the use of gadgets affects a child’s mind and brain, but aren’t really bothered to find a solution to this. “As a first step, parents should create a gadget-free environment at home. Through this, even they can take a break from gadgets, especially mobile phones that are constantly buzzing! There should be a constant reinforcement from the parent’s side — they have to insist on gadget-free childhood at least until the age of 12. Most parents think it is not easy to entertain or engage a child, but if you put your heart and soul into it, you can give your child a beautiful, memorable childhood. If Silicon Valley parents can raise their kids tech-free, then why not us?” she asks.