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Family takes back seat as kids compete for gadgets: Calcutta parents

Youtube live session for city parents on their children's mental health and online classes
The live session on Sunday was attended by 600 parents and it is accessible on YouTube.

Jhinuk Mazumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 28.07.20, 01:05 AM

Students demanding high-end phones from parents for online classes and watching web series instead of watching TV with family were some of the issues raised by parents at a Loreto House session on Sunday.

Teachers and a psychologist addressed parents of students of Classes IX-XII and advised them to listen to their children and be “sensitive and empathetic”. Take their perspective into account and not just “hear” them, parents were told.

All teenagers are different and they should not be pigeon-holed into a single category because not all of them have the same characteristics, one of the panellists said.

In online teaching, “children have started to think their gadgets are not as good as others… they have started to feel peer pressure and the need to upgrade their gadgets and other materialistic possessions”, some of the parents said.

Parents sent their questions to the school through an online platform.

“The onus is on parents to explain to children and tell them this is what they can afford. More than the phone, it is the education they are looking for... explain to them that in Classes IX-XII, the child can work with the phone given to them,” Aruna Gomes, principal of Loreto House and one of the panellists, said.

The live session on Sunday was attended by 600 parents and it is accessible on YouTube. The number of views a day later has gone up to more than 3,000, the school said.

The session on Sunday, “My Mind Matters”, aimed at the mental health and well-being of children followed the first session on Saturday meant for students.

“Please let us not pigeon-hole all girls of this age into a single category of teenagers. Each and every one of your daughters is unique. It is a misconception that teenagers share the same characteristics. Some are outgoing and happy go lucky, some are quiet but content, some are hyperactive and yet nervous, while others may be aloof,” Devi Kar, director of Modern High School for Girls, said while addressing parents. “Each child is different and one cannot have one formula for everybody.”

Parents get to spend less time with children because of the “circumstances” and because “both of them are working”, Gomes said. Parents should “listen” to their children and not judge them, she said.

“Many of us hear our children but do we listen? While we communicate with them we can pick a lot about their friends, studies, feelings. As we communicate with them we must learn not to judge, to discern and you will see your children will be there for you,” Gomes said.

Psychologist Dinaz Jeejeebhoy said adolescence was the transition from child to being an adult and during this phase “their friends make more sense to them than their parents or adults around them”.

“There should be a style of parenting where both parents are warm and careful to set clear restrictions regarding certain kinds of behaviour. Allowing considerable freedom within the limits is the best style of parenting,” she said.

This age group “largely thrives on friendship and interaction with their peers” and they are missing out on “important milestones in their lives, school events and outdoor sports” in these “dreary and dismal times”, Kar said.

She said Class XII students did not know how to prepare for their careers and those serious about sports were worried about their fitness and form. “But one thought helps them all. The fact that they are all in it together,” Kar said.


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