Understanding and Overcoming Gadget Dependency

Technology has revolutionized the lives of people. From using phones to ACs in daily life to running computers in offices and hospitals, we have encompassed our lives around technology. Phones, tablets, and laptops have replaced books, game boards, music players, maps, compasses etc. modern-day work systems also rely on our phones and laptops to transfer and deliver work from any part of the world. The geographical distance has reduced virtually. Our gadgets once used for replacing landline phones, today, have found their way to integrate even into our personal lives. Children, today, are more dependent on gadgets to receive their education and entertainment. A recent study conducted by Coursera suggests that dependency to receive education through online mode was 21 million in 2016 which significantly rose to 92 million globally.

With access to gadgets and technology comes responsibility and self reliance on taking charge of usage hours. Children, especially, are more susceptible to using gadgets more frequently compared to elders for recreational purposes. This includes gaming, using social media features supported by the gadget, watching shows and movies on the OTT platform etc. continuous use with limited cap on the usage of gadgets often leads to dependency on the gadgets.
Some of the early signs of dependency include carrying the phone everywhere, worrying about who is online over the course of the day, trying to check notifications frequently, making excuses to check phones, lesser hours to sleep etc. over a period of time when these behaviors are not regulated or controlled, this can lead to physiological and mood changes like

  • Lethargy
  • lack of motivation to study
  • irritability and frustration when the gadget(s) has been taken
  • unable to seek happiness from other forms of recreation like playing with friends or going outside
  • constant thought preoccupation about notifications and potential messages or calls from friends.

A study conducted across 30 cities in India in 2021 showed that more than 65% of children were addicted and dependent on gadgets and 50% of the children were unwilling to spend more than 30 minutes away from gadgets

Dependency with technology leads to a much lonelier social life where children are unable to experience emotionally rich experiences. The impact is even felt on the cognitive competencies of children’s academic performances. Critical thinking skills, analytical thinking, linguistic and language skills are also compromised. To prevent gadget addiction, parents can limit the screen hours, keep a tab on the social media usage, promote outdoor activities frequently and provide creative or physical activities for their children to engage their time more productively.

To reduce the impact of addiction among children, parents can

  1. Lead by example: by reducing their own screen time, parents can influence their children’s behavior by showing them there is more to life than gadgets. 
  2. Bring out more family time: spending more time together by playing board games, or cooking together, or sharing any activity where children are given hands-on exposure will redirect their interest to their surrounding environment and this brings out a sense of learning. 
  3. Projects: giving children a time bound project such as growing a vegetable garden or science experiments tends to engage their multiple senses which gets them motivated to learn and discover new outcomes to their efforts. They feel rewarded with a sense of accomplishment of achieving their goal with completion of the project. Rewarding their efforts and the outcome of the project, and guiding anytime the child feels a roadblock in the process of their work, tends to sustain their motivation to complete their projects.

Gadget usage has a tendency to replace human interaction through its visual and auditory appeal, when overly indulged into, can have behavioral, emotional and social challenges to children. While it is important for us to teach the younger generation the repercussions of depending on gadgets, we must be mindful of our own usage and dependence on the gadgets.

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