ByÂ Parvathi Preethan:
When I look at the kids today, I normally end up comparing my childhood to theirs. Mine was comparatively what you would call a boring, demure childhood. (And no, I am not a middle-aged person but a 19-year-old college going student.) No iPods, Nintendos and PSPs;Â just random make-believe games and a lot of running around in our compound gardens till late in the evening.
Technology has caught the fancy of children. Inevitable, one would say. But has it also perhaps robbed them of childhood memories they would have preferred more in the future? Sitting indoors glued to the big screen (television), small screen (laptop) and even smaller screens (iPads, iPods etc.) do not make that great memories. But those games you made up, the bruises you got while playing unnecessarily brash games will definitely bring a smile to your face when you think about them later on.
When I was young, I watched shows like That’s so Raven, The Suite Life of Zac and Cody and the like. Children today are hooked onto The Vampire Diaries, How I Met your Mother, Supernatural and other sitcoms. Teenage romance, violence and dirty jokes. Guaranteed addiction! Watching many of these shows myself now, I kind of wish that kids would wait a few more years before they started watching them. Stick to Disney and Animax for some time more. You have all your years ahead for watching these things. But Disney? That’s something else.
Childhood years are the ones where you have vague but happy memories of being blissfully clueless, and unaware of the world around you. It’s those relatively calm and serene years before the turbulent teenage years. You are deliciously preoccupied by things that revolve only around you. Children today are definitely more aware and shrewd, than what we were when younger. But the question we need to ask is, is this necessarily a good thing or a bad thing?
Maybe it’s just me, but is the childhood innocence fading away too soon? Are children, thanks to the influx of technology and exposure to entertainment shows, growing up too fast? They become teenagers in their childhood, and adults in their teenage years. And even if they are, what exactly can be done to stop it? You cannot ban children from watching what so many of their peers watch, you cannot force them to go out and play when they don’t have anybody to play with and you definitely cannot stop buying them gadgets! Well you can, only to probably hear about it for the rest of your life. And children can’t really be blamed, or punished for this either. They are just being swept along in “the flow of change”, as one would call it.
“Striking a balance” would seem like the only available option. But will that work? And how exactly does one strike a balance where, for example, watching TV shows is concerned? Something to ponder over, or ignored because times are changing after all, and everyone falls prey to change, even children.
Maybe the concept of the generation gap needs to be broadened to include this as well. The generation gap earlier existed between parents and their children, now it exists among children too!