Childhood and the Perils of Modern Life

“When I was your age….” I am sure most of you have heard your parents use this phrase while describing their reminiscence and outlook of how life used to be back in the day. Indeed, the modern life that we now live is poles apart from what it used to be around 40 years back. We are living in such a time of change. It is interesting, but it’s a whirlwind of all of it.

With the zippy speed at which the world changes, a generation gap has always existed, be it now or in the past. However, when we see the children engulfed in the flooding online content or being constantly dragged into the virtual world by the attractive and compelling video games, we come to see the realities of modern life.

Internet is addictive. Our society is seemingly obsessed with technology. Toddlers start using mobiles and tablets as soon as they are physically able to. The ramifications of this overuse of technology will be felt in the years to come. Children are likely to be more physically active when they play outside with other children. This is essential for their emotional and physical health, prosperity and happiness. When children spend most of the time in the virtual world, they fail to develop vital social skills and thus contribute to the making of a generation of dysfunctional adults.

The concept of ‘going out to play’ is extinct. However, looking from the wider perspective, internet is not the only one to blame. The primary fault lies in our lifestyle. Living in a big city can have its perks, but the horrors of modern city life can be seen in the crammed up neighborhood with no playgrounds, and no touch with nature. There is excessive competition in every aspect of life.

Earlier, children used to be free to go play whenever they wanted. These days, we have become too organized about what we let the kids do. Parents set up play dates like they book appointments with professionals. Enabling a child to be at ease with anyone, helps them understand their feelings better, and is better than blindly following a schedule.

Modern life also brings up the fact that in many cases, both the parents work long hours at office. A healthy child-parent bonding is increasingly lacking. The absence of adequate emotional bonding during the younger years may cause the child to be emotionally disturbed as they grow. Children are often left alone at home or in crèches.

A rising problem these days, especially in the densely populated countries like India and China, is the competition and the rising expectations of parents. Parents consider their children as the bearers of their unrealized dreams and goals. The drive for success gets everyone in a frenzy. Unrealistic standards are set by parents who want their children to excel in multilateral spheres – education, sports, music, dance and what not, simultaneously. Those lofty expectations however, can cross the line. The day of any average child is overburdening. It isn’t uncommon to see a 10-year old going to school in the morning, coaching in the afternoon and then to classes for extra-curricular activities like music, dance, sports etc. This leaves the child with no breathing space.

Childhood is the fundamental stage of life and is ought to be peaceful and nurturing. A reality check can bring to light the gruesome realities of childhood in the modern days.All these factors lead us to the one thorny problem- the loss of innocence. The excessive pressure for success, exposure to the hardships of life, lack of emotional bonding with parents and friends will take a toll on the future generation. Parents need to understand that grades do not define a child. Ultimately, the whole process of shaming can create problems in terms of self-confidence later on. Let a child choose his/her activities according to his/her liking. Excelling at everything is not humanly possible or practical.

With the advent of technological changes we can definitely say that children in today’s generation are more intelligent than the previous generations’, but we are lacking severely in other aspects. We should let the children be children. Overall development is more important than excellence. Children come afresh into this world without any baggage, and it is important to let them have their freedom.

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