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Academicians back Goa minister's appeal to check use of smartphones by children; parents claim online education makes gadgets necessary

Goa Information and Technology Minister Rohan Khaunte's appeal to parents to stop treating smartphone as a reward for their children has been supported by academicians who support the view that the overuse of gadgets should be checked, but some parents say it is unavoidable in these times of online education.

PTI | Updated on: Sunday, May 01, 2022, 03:14 PM IST

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Panaji: Goa Information and Technology Minister Rohan Khaunte's appeal to parents to stop treating smartphone as a reward for their children has been supported by academicians who support the view that the overuse of gadgets should be checked, but some parents say it is unavoidable in these times of online education.

Khaunte on Friday said a recent survey by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has revealed that mobile phone addiction is taking a serious toll on children.

"We should stop treating smartphones as rewards for children. Let them know that it's just a gadget to tide over the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on regular schooling," he had said.

Reacting to it, renowned academician Narayan Desai told PTI that the "overuse and misuse of gadgets by students is something that we need to counter".

Proper thinking and planning should be done at the level of educational institutions. The parents and students cannot shun the gadgets completely as the new educational policy (NEP) speaks of using multimedia and make the child a self- learner, he said.

The NEP insists that the child should be gadget savvy, he claimed, adding the COVID-19 pandemic has led to several disasters and one of them is students overusing mobiles for their schooling.

He said teachers and parents should come together to find a way out.

Goa resident Sanchita Pai Raikar, whose son is studying in Class 5, said since the time online education became a norm, children have their own gadgets. "The parental control over it is almost nil," she said.

Former chief of Indian Medical Association's Goa unit Dr Shekhar Salkar said many parents have started approaching psychologists on how to reduce the use of mobile phones by children.

Everyone agrees there is a need for digital detoxification. It is a good thing that the thought is coming from the government, but who will actually do it is a question," he said.

The Goa Technology Association (GTA), an umbrella body of various technology-related industries, said the minister has raised the right issue at right time.

Winning a video game and getting 'likes' on a picture releases dopamine, a feel-good chemical in the brain, just like drinking alcohol or using drugs does. Over a period of time, we begin to crave for this dopamine release, which compels us to use technology and internet-enabled devices even more, GTA president Milind Anvekar claimed.

He said while dopamine is not the sole cause of addiction, its motivational properties are thought to play a role in addiction.

To check digital addiction, he suggested checking phone only at a scheduled time, using a timer to reduce gadget usage, not taking phone to bed and replacing the use of smartphone with something more creatively engaging.

He also said it was not fair to only blame children, as they are growing up seeing and understanding that the phone is the most important thing, and it is for the parents to set the right example.

"Schools will soon need to introduce a subject on responsible technology usage. We as a society and state need to form a policy to focus on development in true sense rather than heading towards the virtual world, he added.

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Published on: Sunday, May 01, 2022, 03:14 PM IST