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Parents shouldn’t treat mobile phones as rewards for children: Goa IT Minister Rohan Khaunte

Parents should stop treating smartphones as rewards for their children, Goa IT Minister Rohan Khaunte said on Friday, while also calling for “digital detoxification”.

Khaunte in a people’s editorial published in a local English daily ‘Oheraldo’ also said that while parents assume that their children are studying online using their mobile phones, a majority of them in fact browse through social media and entertainment apps.

“We should stop treating smartphones as rewards for children. Let them know that it’s just a gadget to tide over pandemic restrictions on regular schooling. Parents must take initiative to open up normal channels of communication, have mobile-free hours at home, stop mobile usage half an hour before sleeping, etc,” Khaunte said.

“Children are becoming prone to physical ailments arising out of eye strain, poor posture and lack of physical activity. While most parents unwittingly believe that their children are studying, the truth is that majority of them are spending more and more time on social media sites, entertainment apps, etc.”

He said, while calling internet and mobile addiction as “silent killers” of physical and social activities, while also calling for a healthy balance between “online learning and conventional learning”.

Increasing reliance on digitisation, Khaunte said, was making children today, prone to feeling lonely and insecure, in wake of lack of personal interactions and reduced parental control.

“Their 24×7 digital life leads to sleep deprivation, low musculoskeletal health, reduced immunity, etc. The digital world is also causing attention deficit, lack of social skills, dietary issues, psychological issues, inability to handle relationships, and pressures of life,” he said.

“This also results in short memory, dependence on Internet/Google for even basic information, exposure to unhealthy, unsolicited, and adverse content including pornography, etc. All this affects the healthy growth of our children as responsible citizens of the future,” Khaunte added.