When we were little, gully cricket and hopscotch, bicycles and hide-and-seek would be the highlights of our evenings. We were the masters of our imaginations, and our senses were sparked by bees and butterflies and rain. A graze on the knee would prompt tears, but it was a sign that we would grow taller, our mothers would gently reassure us. It was the little things that counted. And those were enough.
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Life is different now. Technology addiction has impacted millennials and changed the way we live. Gully cricket has been trumped by mobile games, and our bicycles have gathered dust in the basement.
Dinner table conversations have given way to TV dinners and if you think about it, family life now hinges on technology.
There’s an adage that comes to mind for this technology age that we live in. With the good, comes the bad, it says. And it couldn’t be truer. It’s a given that technology has elevated our lifestyles, communication, medical infrastructure and other important aspects of our lives, but it has also sent us into a downward spiral of lethargy, social awkwardness and poor health.
Children of today resort to technology for work and play. As a result, the technology bubble they have created for themselves has become an invisible barrier, limiting their imaginations. The use of gadgets for extended periods of time also restricts motor and sensory development in children. There’s a reasonable explanation for this. When a child’s sedentary body is blitzed with sensory stimuli, there is a sensory imbalance between the body and the mind. This results in delayed developmental milestones and hampers elementary skills needed to develop literacy. Today’s young have a permanent need for speed, and this often comes across in the form of behavioural problems and poor attention skills in the classroom.
Increased use of gadgets can also spur back problems, unintelligible speech, autism, coordination disorders, learning difficulties, weak eyesight and obesity. But not only that, but it can also affect social relationships. Communication has become a queer mix of instant messages, social media updates and virtual conversations these days, and genuine relationships are being eclipsed by an alluring façade called the internet.
There are four fundamental factors that contribute to healthy child development. These are touch, movement, human contact and exposure to nature. Each of these has a role in sensory development. Touch, for example, can help promote movement patterns. If you have an infant, hugging her, stroking her hair and playing with her will ensure that her motor skills develop appropriately.
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Movement aids in honing your child’s tactile system. Human touch strengthens social skills and relationships. Infants need about three hours of active playtime to develop sensory stimulation to their vestibular and tactile systems, and that’s where human contact plays a big role. The last pillar of child development is nature. The outdoors can have a calming effect on your child, and well, a little extra oxygen is always a good thing.
You, dear reader, are probably reading this article on your laptop screen or mobile handset. Oh, the irony! It’s bemusing how technology can be the best thing that ever happened to us, and also our greatest downfall. At the end of the day, maintaining that balance is up to each of us.
Now, if only fresh air could be downloaded.
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