Make way for the Gen Next Opiate

(Image courtesy: joeforamerica.com)

Do this – no, really do it.
Look at the light that lights up the room you are in. Stare at it for two minutes and read this.

What happens? What you see on screen appears hazy, de-focused and strains your eyes. Well, not only this, but any form of over-exposure(read: light in this case) causes dissociation and disorientation from the reality.

Analogically, mindless over-exposure to kids these days, mainly by the use of technology, results in their decreased creativity and imagination, along with a warped perception of the reality.

The process of ‘hard-wiring’ of the brain starts at a very early age and the intellect developed is a result of the intellectual activities undertaken by the child.

When was the last time you saw a kid in a public space, staring into oblivion, giving you an impression of the most complex fairy tale being formed in his/her head? Well, my answer is – not in a really long time.

The sight that I often come across these days is of that of them playing on their mobile phones/iPads/tablets, accompanied by their parents praising them for acquiring an early grip on technology. Parents too are blinded by a desire to be at par with the other kids and their parents when it comes to adopting and adapting to the metamorphosis.

Before the age of 10-11, children lack the cognitive sophistication required for real creativity. Children younger than this age depend on accidental impressions and material fed to them. Younger children’s ability to produce statistically infrequent, unique and unusual ideas has significantly decreased after late 2000s, the reasons quite evident.

Children have ever-increasing opportunities for knowledge and empirical abstraction but what they really require is the time to engage in the mental process of building knowledge through actions.  The amount of free, uninterrupted play time for children has reduced over the years owing to excessive, unmonitored usage of technology by them.

Little do we realize that the kids, in today’s time, are left with no time to get bored, contemplate, and run their imagination wild.

Of course, technology has a place. For older children, certain games in particular can be immensely creative and stimulating, if played in moderation. The clue here, is the word ‘moderation’. But when used mindlessly or as a default, we run the risk of this new virtual world creeping into the time kids would have spent using their own imagination and creativity.

Mobile games are classified into educational, casual and serious genres. The question to be asked is – which child is going to choose a game about learning over a game where they can kill zombies or drive cars at unruly amounts of speed? And supporting this anomaly, the most popular games played on Android are Clash of Clans, Plants versus Zombies, Asphalt Airborne.

Furthermore, the advent of WhatsApp and its exhaustive usage by kids and youngsters is causing a severe setback to their self-confidence. While extremely fluent in conversations over WhatsApp, when these youngsters converse with others in person, it causes uneasiness and a lack or words in them. Along with this, they are often found to have developed an emotional disconnect with people and reality.

Technology comforts people, tells them what they want to hear, is widely accepted and is one of the biggest addictions seen in today’s times. Well, this is exactly what Marx said about religion in 1843 and about it being the opium of the masses that comforts people and is hence developed as an addiction. Can we then say, that in the 21st century, ‘technology is the Opium of the masses’?

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