Sunday, February 15, 2015

Smartphone Syndrome

My friend once told me " Parul, for you, whatever choices you have made in life are the correct ones. Other people's choices always fall short". I feel this is true for me in a lot of instances. Even my posts take such an arrogant moralistic stand that I wonder is this what I do when  my "life is easy kya karein".

Since the onslaught of mobile phones in our lives, I want to stay connected. I want to appear intelligent. I want to be cool. Was this need there even before the onset of social media in my life? May be.  The people living in our Mumbai chawls, so many have Smartphones. They are watching live TV, downloading movies on their Smartphones. I thought the word 'Smartphone' was a slang. I just figured it is a word in our dictionary and also in Wikipedia, which is like what the Encylopedia was in my times.

In the upper middle class households, all the young children want an iPhone. It is definitely a status symbol for them. The students are into proving my Father is richer than yours. The aeroplane rides, the foreign holidays, Mommy's diamonds, Daddy's four wheel drives and our gadgets, are like what a magnet pencil box, a coloured eraser and a nice short hair cut were in my times. The parents have their own excuse, which is that if I am using an iPhone, how can I give my child a Nokia or a Samsung? Its all about teaching your child 'equality'. If I buy clothes worth 'x' amount, I have to provide my child stuff worth that amount at least, lest he/she gets offended. How can I have my child not  showing intense devotion towards me even for a millisecond? How do I get that love and devotion from my child, is by providing the freebees. May be someone got this election idea from today's modern parents. In the urge to provide their  child the very best, the parents feel small if they cannot afford an iPhone. They feel that the child will not fit into his friend circle and will feel humiliated. So even if I am using a simple mobile phone, my God gifted child deserves an iPhone. If my child is dressed in good brands, it makes me look rich. I have seen all my maids providing their teen children with mobile phones, when it is them who actually are in need of one. The social pressure which we all live by. The child grows up to be this pampered arrogant brat who feels he/she deserves everything on a platter.

Some parents are 'wheeling and dealing' with their children. There are constant deals being made with the child. It is no more about showing the carrot. Parents use phrases like "It is a deal". Am I being harsh on  these parents? Yes I am, as I also see the other variety of parents where children are being raised with values. What has a mobile phone got to do with values? Look at my language, I am not able to even call it a Smartphone. I know children who walk in with their iPads whenever they go for a social outing. They are on their phones or iPads in a crowd. We take the smartphone or a tablet as a sign of an intelligent child. Parents brag how their son changes the settings on their gadgets and can download stuff from the internet.  I am addicted to my phone. It is difficult for me to leave it except when I am sleeping or in my Yoga class. I don't know what I will do when my child becomes a teen and demands the most expensive phone. I will pray and hope that I have raised the child well and the child will not make any unreasonable demands. My child has one answer for everything I have to say, " It is the Mom syndrome". Am I suffering from a new disease that I do not know of?  All my fears, my love for vegetables, applying hair oil twice a week, eating fruits and other such sermons are categorised under the 'Mom syndrome'.

All our play areas are taken way by the builders. Our trees have been cut to make way for new infrastructure. The buildings built all over are so synthetic and like cubicles with the artificial  grass carpet lest the rich pampered child falls on real mud in the playground. Moms are going senile protecting their children from germs, falls, running nose, small cuts and little bleeding on the knee. The child doesn't know what is 'paao mein phaans chali gayi hai' i.e. there is a thorn or a little splinter of  wood which has gone in the foot. Barefoot playing or walking is unheard of now. We used to remove this 'phaans' with a needle or a safety pin. No one had Dettol or Soframycin in their homes. Our parents did not carry a medical kit which had antibiotics, pain killers, band aids, mosquito repellants, antacids, anti histamine, anti allergic tablets etc, on a vacation.

Do I blame the social media? Do I call the Smartphones a social evil? Or should I say let us all move with times and If guns are the next in thing, let us provide that for our children? All the militant and terrorist recruitment and activities are happening courtesy our Smartphones. But then the World Wars happened when we had not made such leaps in technology and communication. Children learning to assemble bombs, have drugs, operate guns, all the information is on the Smartphone or the tablet you are providing your child. Are you as a parent responsible for what the child sees there? Or are you going to blame the 'bad company' when your child does a wrong? We as parents have a huge responsibility to nurture the future generations. What value system and what exposure can you provide your child?  Is the religion more fanatic or the media? Where will your child learn the truth from? Are you as a parent going to raise a free thinking child when the news are all biased? Don't you want your great Grandchildren to grow up in a happy safe environment? Do you want your cynicism to persist and your disillusionment to continue?










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