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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thinks About It..

Dealing With the Impact of Modern Gadgets on our Lives

Whether we like it or not, electric appliances and gadgets have occupied a major position in our day to day lives. Though they were invented to make life better for us in the first place, it is an undeniable fact that many of the gadgets have a negative influence upon the quality of our lives in some ways. As we cannot live without them in this modern world and they are a necessary evil, we have to find ways to reduce the negative impact of those modern appliances. Let us see some of the gadgets that we commonly use, the problems arising out of their use, and the ways of minimizing the negative effects arising from their use.

Though it might be considered as a good source of family entertainment and a good way to wind-down after a hectic day, too much television viewing can be very bad for us. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children below the age of 2 years should not see any TV and those above 2 years should be restricted to 2 hours of viewing per day. However researches indicate that if Video games/ DVD watching is also included there are some teens who average about 35 hours per week (more than double the recommended maximum view time!) in front of the tube. This definitely eats into the time that can be spent on more productive activities.

The scenes witnessed in TV programs even in so-called family programs or soaps are often not recommended for teen-viewership when they are highly impressionable. For instance, there are studies to prove that children exposed to repeated scenes of violence (fight sequences) did not appreciate the physical harm that such acts can cause to others and were found to be insensitive to the trauma of victims of violent incidents. This is explained by a phenomenon called “Psychological overload” where the mind learns to accept scenarios to which it is repeatedly exposed and thus prevents the person thus exposed from experiencing “strong feelings like sympathy” in situations similar to that. Similarly, unrealistic portrayal of characters or stereotyping that is common in most programs can blunt a young adult’s ability to evaluate persons/ situations from realistic perspectives.

Even discounting the psychological effects of such a viewing pattern, on a very gross level we find that family members have very little time to talk and understand each other better due to the amount of time they spend in front of the screen. The warmth of relationship is something that the distant tube cannot provide; but we have a generation of children which has grown up not knowing how much they are missing in terms of a joyous family interaction by merely sitting glued to television programs for hours together.

The solution to this lies in reducing TV viewing time to a great extent, and in spending the time in family chatter instead. We have much to learn from each other as persons and no artificial media can substitute human warmth and interaction when it comes to improving emotional intelligence. So, we should put our foot firmly down and reduce the TV viewing time of the family in the best interests of everyone.

Though computers have become almost indispensable today, too much time in front of the screen can be damaging to the eyes. Dryness of eyes, weakening of optical nerves, blank stares developed as a result of staring at the screen for hours together, idiopathic head-aches, and mood swings are some of the negative effects that arise due to spending too much time in front of the computer continuously. Lap tops have the added “honour” of even reducing fertility of men (due to the high temperature arising out of constant usage).

The solution lies in taking a break from the screen at least for at least 3 mins for every one hour of computer usage. We can simply close our eyes or walk out of the work-station and train our eyes on distant greeneries so that the “blank stare” syndrome is avoided. Laptops are best used keeping an insulating medium like a wooden plank or a file folder between our laps and the laptop to avoid exposing our body to the “heat” of the gadget.

Children should never be allowed to immerse themselves in computer games that have too vivid graphics because it curtails their ability to visualize things for themselves. The mental imagery that is developed when reading novels or stories or while listening to good story-tellers is much more vivid than even the best designed graphics. But repeated to exposure to good quality graphic games makes the child blind to such joys of the mind where the young mind imagines things, and recreates wonderful scenarios merely from vivid descriptions depicted in stories. Cultivation of active reading habits is better than passive viewing of graphic models/ games.

In fact, there are parents who feel proud that their tiny tot will not trouble anyone and will sit silently for hours if its favourite computer game is loaded on to the system. This is not correct. Children should be allowed to make a “nuisance” of themselves – to run around the house, to break things, to ask uncomfortable questions to adults, to shout, and in short – they should be allowed to be children – wild and active. By restricting them to the screen at young age, we are encouraging sedentary and passive life-style which will be manifest as myriad problems when they grow up.

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