Children in the cities are apparently losing their childhood years—they are being thrown into the virtual world and pushed out from the real one. No doubt technology has rendered immense power to persons of every age, and is the vehicle of power today. But the point that I want to raise is that too many children (till 16 years of age) have become unknowingly trapped by this appealing bait, technology, that is pervading our culture.
Despite of the scarcity of opportunities exclusive to big cities, children living in rural areas, where virtual reality devices are rare, are healthier and more energetic as compared to their urban counterparts. This observation is partly due to the fact that they usually have an ample of land area for playing and moving around and have more access to natural resources like sunlight, air that is less polluted, and food that is less chemically modified. The problem of obesity, which is largely an urban phenomenon, too, is rare in the rural areas.
Apart from health, children in the cities are growing to be more distanced from their native culture—carnivals, language, and traditions—as the clarion call of modernity asks them to break free from the old. This idea resonates with them louder by the day.
Today, “games” by definition mean video games, not so much the outdoor kind. A dearth of real spaces in many urban and semi-urban areas has led to a mass drifting of children towards virtual platforms, like PC, laptop, and mobile gaming.
These games, which often are based on simulated reality, claim to improve the gamer’s cognitive skills like memory, concentration, and coordination. Who knows, such claims might be true, but another and even bigger truth is that videogamers indeed miss out on more essential life skills like sociability, multitasking, physical exercise, and problem solving in real 3-D spaces, without any technological aid.
Another issue, according to me, has surfaced with the rise of video games especially on mobile (Android/iOS/Windows) platforms: people in general and kids in particular are obtaining instant gratification through these gadgets. Kids these days have forgotten what wanting and yearning means; they don’t know what scarcity, dearth, and poverty means. These are not primitive, pre-technology habits, but timeless ways of imbibing relevant values.
Yet another reason for the social demobilisation of children and their aversion to going outdoors is due to the fact that they are largely confined to their houses, having with only two options—to play videogames (or use electronic devices) or to study.
Recently, I read an article written by Victoria L. Duncley M.D. (of Mental Wealth), in which she elaborated on how video games affect a child’s physiology. She states that a child’s “nervous systems shift into high gear and settles there while they attempt to master different situations […] Their heart rate increases from 80 to over 100 beats per minute and their blood pressure rises from a normal 90/60 to 140/90.” The ill-effects of playing video games range from radiation to sensory stimulation.
It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to show children the right direction and to make them aware of the merits and the demerits of video games and virtual reality. In the end, it’s us who create and recreate culture. Technology, regardless of its infinite potential in transforming the world, is just a tool in the hands of humanity which can be moulded, controlled, and regulated depending on our use, misuse, and abuse of it.
We have to take control over how we use technology before technology takes control of us.