Humans alone are blessed enough to live a life we really want to live. A tree cannot change its address, but we can; a fish cannot change its face but if we decide, we can do a makeover; elephants cannot change its shape or size but we humans can immediately bring changes to our physical body with our self-effort and much more. With real self-effort in the present, you can create a future in a way you want to experience. What is future? It’s an experience that we are waiting to experience. You can’t pause yourself in the present. As a human being, you alone live your present having the future in the mind, and this is never going to change. Everything has got a value only when you use your present in a way which will facilitate or create a good future. Why are we talking about this? It’s because the future of this world is our children, the young generation. For many parents, they are not just children, they are their life. No matter how much ever you strive to create the best future for them, if they don’t have health and strength to enjoy it, it’s of no use. This is the biggest truth that everyone should realise before I talk about the present health condition of our young generation.
SCREEN / GADGET TIME IN
Let’s focus on children below the age of 12, an age where our intervention is a must to help them create a good future. It’s our utmost responsibility to help them protect themselves from the damage that they will go through because of their exposure to digital media. As a parent, it becomes our responsibility to decide their screen time, anything that they visually interact with: TV, mobile, Facebook, YouTube, video games, etc. Screen time is different from gadget time. When your child watches a movie or cartoon on TV, it’s called screen time. When he/she is on mobile games, it’s called gadget time. Research shows that parents engage their children with digital games to keep themselves free or to be undisturbed by them. When you stop or control their screen time, they will find alternative ways to watch it without your knowledge. This is a wrong approach. If you don’t want them to use digital media, you should find ways to entertain them or engage them. Reading books, spending personal time with them, board games, etc. are some ways to replace screen time. Many times, parents do the mistake of putting their children in various activities which they are not interested in, like music, dance, sports, etc. If they are not interested, they will ultimately divert back to gadgets. First you should understand that you cannot completely cut down their screen time but you can definitely have a control over it.
POSITIVE DISCIPLINE - BE KIND
The Vedas say if you want to achieve anything, first comes rules and regulations. So, first fix the rules. Without being rude, you should convey it to the child calmly and firmly that this is the time permitted for their screen and gadget time and make sure you implement it with strict policy and authority. This is the only approach. In the name of psychology, parents nowadays don’t show authority over children. Either they are too rude or too sweet to them. Always remember that you have all the authority not to be rude but to be strict. Children may not like it but this is required to protect their future. Whatever tantrums they throw, we should be firm with our decision. This is called regulation.
BE RATIONAL NOT EMOTIONAL
Most of the parents communicate to their children in an emotional way, not in a rational way. Everybody knows that today’s children are too much exposed to screen and gadgets and are aware of the ill effects too. As parents, what you do is either scream at children or request them to be away from gadgets. Both ways are incorrect and is not going to work as this is emotional communication. An emotional communication is possible only when you don’t set rules. There is something called rational communication which involves a reason for the rule. Your children may not accept it immediately but will surely appreciate it once they understand it because they are also humans; they are just younger to us. When you set a rule, you need to give reasons too; you need to explain the consequences that they will have to go through if they don’t follow it. All the health hazards of screen time have to be clearly explained to them. Explaining this without setting rules is of no use. Similarly having rules without explaining this doesn’t serve the purpose. As a next step, finding a replacement for the screen time will be effective and in fact in this present world, this is the highest requirement and essential duty which every parent has to start. Failing to do this, you want it or not, you are inviting hell. I know this is a big word but I am just being straight and direct.
ISOLATED FROM THE REAL WORLD
Of course there are many health reasons which scientific research is proving, but in reality, young children spending more screen time will fundamentally grow without human values in spite of having high skills and unexplainable talents. This is a shocking truth which we need to be aware of and immediately start applying rules and regulations. It is seen that the ratio of human interaction has totally reduced when compared to people without screen time. Shockingly the interaction between family members is zero in the present world. Today’s children are not only taken away from the real world but they are totally lost in a virtual world. Every character, every interaction and emotion becomes virtual. Once this becomes an addiction, we have nothing to do but watch them go through hell.
Any amount of isolation from the real world and an inclination towards virtual world will lead the mind to three aspects:
- Unwanted anger.
- Unexplainable negative thoughts and fear.
- High in skill but extremely low in mental strength.
Considering physical aspects, children with high amount of screen time can never sleep on time and can never eat on time. Even if they do, they don’t get sound sleep and good food. These two being the fundamental sources for human growth, it’s high time you think about reducing your children’s screen time.
BE AN EXAMPLE TO YOUR
So, ask yourself today whether you are a parent who gets the best of the gadgets for their entertainment. If so, please remember that the damage caused because of this is irreversible. Please give your child the best time in the future by reducing the screen time and gadget time in their present. How much ever you advise, children will give importance to not what you say but what you do. Start applying it in your life so that this will help you create a valuable future for your children. With self-effort and determination, you can bring positive differences in their present and future.
Wishing you a life full of peace, success and happiness!!
Atmayogi Shri Aasaanji
Aham Brahmasmi !
Atmayogi Shri Aasaanji is a non-religious, contemporary Spiritual Master and the founder of the Atmayoga Foundation (Institute for Inner-Science and Self-Transformation) www.atmayoga.in