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Parents in Kolkata told: Child on phone? So are you

Reduce device use because kids pick up habits they see around them, says school principal

Jhinuk Mazumdar | Published 23.03.23, 06:54 AM
Most people now jot down notes on their phone, from grocery lists to setting reminders.

Most people now jot down notes on their phone, from grocery lists to setting reminders.

File photograph

Cut down the use of phones when you are in the company of children and don’t let your children carry their phones on a family holiday, a school principal told parents.

During a recent orientation for parents of children from Nursery to Class XII, the principal of The Heritage School talked about how kids pick up habits from adults.


Even when not working, adults are in the habit of browsing their phones to check social media posts or see what is the latest series or film on OTT (over-the-top) platforms.

Most people now jot down notes on their phone, from grocery lists to setting reminders.

“I have told parents that in the evening, when they are not working, they should try to use pen and paper instead of the phone. Children tend to emulate parents. Hence, parents, too, need to keep the phone or device away to set the right example,” said Seema Sapru, principal of the school. Sapru shared examples of how parents complain that their children do not read.

But that is because parents do not read either, she said. “If children see their parents playing badminton or reading they would do that, too. They observe and do what their parents do. They are a reflection of their parents,” Sapru said.

The orientation was conducted in different sessions for the parents of junior, middle and senior school students. In one of the sessions, the father of a Class VI girl and a Kindergarten boy said he would switch off the WiFi at home before leaving for work but would come back to find it switched on. The Kindergarten child had rebooted the WiFi, he said.

On a vacation, children should be encouraged to see their surroundings and listen to the sounds around them and this cannot happen if they have phones in their hands, Sapru told parents. On holidays, children across ages are seen looking at their phones and not at the landscape or the new place they are visiting.

The parents, too, are busy capturing the scene on their phones and taking selfies against spectacular backdrops rather than enjoying the experience. “For example, sunrises and sunsets are natural beauties that we travel to see. But instead of taking in the experience, the adults are busy taking pictures,” said Sapru. Naturally, children tend to do the same.

“I told parents that if you have to keep your children glued to the phone, there is no point taking them out,” Sapru told The Telegraph. Most phones now have high-resolution cameras and adults love experimenting with photographs that would attract attention on social media. Scenes of adults taking photographs of food in restaurants have become common.

When schools reopened after two years of online classes during the Covid pandemic, most young parents would make their children stand in front of their school to take photographs that were posted on social media. But parents across schools said that digital detox was easier to talk about than implement at home. Many children react violently to such proposals and parents are at a loss. “Phones have become an important means of communication for work because of the flexibility it allows,” said businessman Tejas Doshi. His daughter is in Class IX in a city school.

“If anyone is not accessible or not answering the phone and messages are not getting delivered, it leads to a panic-like situation,” he said. Across schools, since the pandemic, most communication happens online.

“Children have become so dependent on their phones that if I am to take it away, there will be behavioural issues. When I tried taking it away during a holiday, my son said I was encroaching on his privacy,” said Manish Dalmia. His son studies in Class VIII in an all-boys school. Monica Liu, a mother, suggested a routine that parents, too, have to follow.

“I do not take calls during dinner unless it’s a work-related emergency. I have told my children that if they receive a phone call during family time, they have to restrict it to the topic of the call instead of chatting,” said the dentist who has a 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.

Last updated on 23.03.23, 06:54 AM

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