1. On the occasion of Teachers’ Day, 2017, I take the opportunity of writing a few lines about the impact of Media and Technology on Children’s Development.
2. To start with, I shall narrate one story which my grandmother once told me. The story is still vivid in my mind and a guiding factor in my life. The story was like that – Once a pair of Parrots while flying in the open sky got lost and they landed separately in a dense forest. One came down to a Saint’s Ashram (hermitage) and the other to a dacoit’s den. Both the parrots were well taken care of. They started talking like a human being. They listened to the conversations of their masters. Whenever, any guest would enter the Ashram, the saint got pleased and extended hospitality. The Saint offered him seat, gave water to drink to quench his thirst. Seeing all these, the parrot therein also started talking to the Guest saying “Please come, be seated comfortably, take rest, drink water. But in the dacoit’s den, the situation was entirely different. The dacoit used to capture the passers-by, robbed him of everything and finally killed him. The parrot therein learned the same and started talking after seeing the passers-by “Capture him, loot him of everything, beat him and kill him”.
3. The inherent meaning of the above story is that even the birds are influenced with the events they see in their surroundings. Men are no exceptional – especially the children.
4. The children are the mirror. They reflect the same object placed in front of them. Their behavior develop seeing the environment surrounding them. I have seen little kids who have just started talking, recite Gayatri Mantra. This has been taught to them. They sit by the side of their parents and offer Prayers before the Idol of God with folded hands. They do not know ‘God’, the rituals in performing the Puja and the Prayer. They simply follow their parents and develop habits.
5. Media, by name, which generally means broadcasting – radio, television and printing materials like newspapers, journals, books etc and finally, the social media; the Internet – all have a cascading effect on the minds of children whenever they come across such means of media communication.
6. World is continuously changing. Nobody can escape from this change. It is like a moving Train. When we are travelling in a Train, we are bound by its direction and speed. It encompasses everybody. But the point is minimizing of the effect. If we sit in a second class compartment by the side of an open window, the impact is - gush of dusty winds, loud noise of rotating wheels. In the AC Coach, the situation will, however, be different. Looking through the tinted window glass, it is more comfortable and pleasant and soothes the eyes apart from less noise.
7. Exposure of children to the Media World would be like seeing the World through a filtered method. It is like a Swan swimming in a muddy pond and often taking food particles through their specialized tongues. Their tongues only take the required food particle which is digested by them and required for their body and reject the waste unnecessary materials. Similarly, children are to be provided an environment where they will take the good things beneficial to them and discard the rest.
8. The question arises whether all kinds of media information are bad – certainly not. There are programmes in TV where Artist show the art of painting from the scratch, making of clay models, decorative pieces from waste materials. Children watch the show with rapt attention and try to follow the same keeping in mind whatever the Artists taught. On the contrary, children while watching violent movies instantaneously start shadow boxing imitating the style of the Actor in the small screen.
9. Media will play its role as usual and we have hardly any control of the items showed in various programmes and in different Internet Sites. Students must not be exposed to dangerous and harmful Sites which may become fatal to them. There has to be a filtering system to assess the item which will be made accessible to them.
10. Extensive Research is going on world-wide for assessing the impact of Media in the minds of children especially at the adolescent stage. Researchers have found out the good as well as the bad effects of media. Here are some good and bad examples which the Researchers have found :
(i) Brings the world much closer. Get updated knowledge of every happenings in the world.
(ii) Children come to know about reality of human relationship in life.
(iv) Provides an effective platform for enhancing knowledge.
(iv) Get well acquainted with the net working skill and modern day technology.
(v) Interacts with relatives and family friends staying at far off places and maintain relationship.
(vi) Increases communication skill and express them independently.
(i) Vastness of the Media makes accessible to all types of information which is wide-ranging.
(ii) Children get moulded easily. They become more inclined to harmful sites rather than educative Sites.
(iii) Harmful Sites affect the thinking process of the children. They try to see the world in a different way.
(iv) Unnatural behaviors’ are observed in the children.
(v) Easily fall prey to cyber trap like ‘Blue Whale Challenger’ which is dangerous and proves fatal.
(vi) Easier to enter harmful Sites but difficult to exit.
(vii) Affects health of children.
(viii) Get irritated on minor things as adverse reactions of harmful Sites engulf his body and mind and impede his balance of mind.
(ix) The Children’s World is lost and lives in fantasy which may even develop from Cartoon films.
(x) Seriously affects studies.
(The above are only excerpts and not exclusive).
11. From the above examples, it is evident that the magnitude of ‘Bad Effects’ is much in greater proportion than the ‘Good Effects’. We, everybody, the Teachers, Parents, Society have a greater responsibility to guide the children in the right direction. I remember a famous quote which reads “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” It means that the Mother who rocks the cradle and it is she who exercises her influence over the mind of her children. A Mother is that great woman, who mould the character of her children with her noble qualities. I would further elaborate that the Teacher also takes the role of a Mother in shaping the character of children with her noble qualities. The small child of today will grow up and excel and will be a pride of the Nation. The country will be in the safe hands in the years to come if Teachers also come forward in this noble task of nation building in shaping the characters of the children.
12. Once, I had an interesting interaction with my students about selecting a place outside where a trip can be arranged from the School. I asked suggestions from students where they would like to visit. Almost all the students suggested hill stations, adventurous places like Sanctuary etc. But to my surprise, one student suggested visiting ‘Wagah Border’ in Punjab to watch the military parade of our soldiers along the Line of Control. To my query for any specific reason for visiting this place, the student replied that he has seen in the Media that it arouses the patriotic fervor. I was astonished that the Media has so much positive role that it has aroused patriotic fervor within the child.
13. As a Teacher, one has to find this inquisitiveness of the child and guide him in proper direction. Parents have to be more accessible to children. Parents have to give time to the child by sitting with him and engage themselves on different subjects like how he spent his day in the School, any special event happened, any commendable communication from your teacher etc. In such interaction, parents will be able to watch unnatural behavior within the child, if any, and will take proper remedial measures.
14. To conclude, I may refer to a valid question which is asked very often – ‘Whether Science is a Blessing or a Curse.’ After detailed deliberations, a conclusion is reached that Science is a Blessing if it is used for peaceful purposes like nuclear energy being harnessed for generation of electricity. Science is a curse if it is used for destructive purposes like dropping of Nuclear Bomb for destruction of the entire life and property. Similarly, impact of Media on Children is immensely good if it is used in the right direction in creating mass education programme, oriented towards development of the children. It is much worse if Media plays its negative role which will seriously affect the children and ultimately our country in the years to come.
About the Author:
Ms. Sudipta Sen: I am the School Incharge at Arwachin Public School, Ghaziabad. I have been a teacher for more than 13 years now and have received 'Best Teacher' award by Bharat Vikas Parishad. Teaching and singing are my passion.