The other day, me and wife went shopping to Mae Nam Market in Koh Samui, Thailand. As usual we went there to purchase groceries — fruits, vegetables and yes possibly dinner. As we passed by the many vendor stalls that were selling vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and other home-made items — I noticed something rather attention grabbing.
Seated behind the produce, next to the seller were a group of 3 kids. And each of the three kids were lying down on a table. And each of the 3 kids has a smartphone device.
I have no idea what they were watching but my guess was they were looking at some youtube episode of a cartoon serial.
I looked at them for sometime and then continued my shopping.
Soon, I started to look around and see if I could notice other children doing the same. To my surprise, almost every child, in every vendor stall had a smartphone or a device in their hands. And almost every child was busy either interacting with the smartphone device (as in playing a game) or they were busy watching a youtube cartoon or movie.
I then motioned to my wife and asked her if this was the case with all Thai children, to which she responded, “Yes, today all Thai children love watching tv or cartoons on their phones. Many of them have facebook accounts or they have messenger or they chat with their friends or play games.”
Now you may not feel this is surprising or disturbing. But I do. And I find it even more shocking and surprising to know that people who live near and about the poverty line have their children addicted to this phenomenon.
Seriously speaking, when did it become normal to give a child a handheld device and keep them addicted to it?
In fact, nowadays it is not surprising to see children screaming, shouting and even getting wild and angry when their smartphones are taken away from them. In fact, it has become a norm to give a child a smartphone when they are going to school, going out with their friends, and even as a reward mechanism for having sat one hour to study.
I remember the days when take a break meant going out and playing with their friends or engaging in a physical activity. But today, taking a break involves being rewarded with this handheld device and being glued to it for hours and hours.
To my surprise, even the cleaner’s child who works in my neighbors house, sits nearly 4 to 5 hours a day in one place watching moves, playing games and chatting with his friends. And this boy is over-weight nearly 3 times in comparison to a normal Thai child. I have watched him sitting in one place, while his mother literally ensures he stays happy in that one spot.
When I took the liberty of asking her, why was she doing that, her response was “At least now he doesn’t complain or move around. And that helps me focus on my work.”
Look, I do not know about you but I can assure you one thing — Having a child addicted to social media is not healthy at all. And where my child is concerned, he or she will not be allowed to have this device in his or her hand.
Food, Clothing, Shelter, Education & Medical treatment all comes under my responsibility. But if my kid demands for any of these gadgets or devices, the answer is No.
There is a time and place for such activities. But ingraining this habit right when the child is in its infancy is making your child get hooked on to one of the most dangerous and addictive trends in the world — the internet. And given how things are moving, I for one will never want to be responsible for the mental & emotional addiction to this virtual world.
As I walked with my wifey back to my scooter, I looked at my wife and asked her one question, “Tomorrow when our baby becomes big and he asks for a smartphone, what will you do?”
My wifey looked at me and with her Thai eyes expanding, expressed to me in her fragmented English “Baby, I not give phone because no good. Baby, I want farming, working and helping mama in house.”
I just smiled at my wifey and gave her a nice hug.
At least we both were on the same page.