Cartoon time for children: Parents prefer safety of Disney to volatile surroundings
As soon as clock strikes 8 in the morning, six year old Zayan gets hold of TV remote and starts marathon watching of cartoon serials particularly Japanese character Doraemon. With no schools and playgrounds off limits to children due to dangerous situation, Zayan often gets his way with TV.
Zayan is not alone as it has become the norm in almost all houses in Kashmir with kids and access to cable channels.
"It all started on Eid as on the day of festivity we usually allow children to watch their favourite shows. But then there was the unrest and holidays for them literally never ended," said Zayan's parents. "Though he has become stubborn and doesn't even care for his meals, but given the situation outside we are tolerating it."
Some parents have even renewed or newly subscribed to channels like Nickelodeon, Disney, Hungama and Animax so that their children remain at home.
"We used to limit our children from watching the cartoons for not more than one day a week, but now we offer them to watch as much as they can," said Sheikh Aslam, a worried parent from Kulgam. Aslam recharged his dish TV after a gap of three months just for the reason that his eight year old son doesn't get caught up in the protests. "Last week my son out of curiosity ventured out to see a protest and there was police action. We were worried to death," said Aslam. "At this moment I decided to start these cartoon channels for him. At least he will remain in the house."
In the current situation people are preferring safety of their children over anything else. "If they become indisciplined due to TV, we can correct their behavior at the later stage. But if God forbid anything happens to them then what can we do," said another worried parent. "We don't allow them to even go for tuitions outside, so our main concern is to remain indoors."
All educational institutes have been closed and majority of playgrounds are off the limits to children due to continues curfew and unrest since July 9. At many places in downtown Srinagar children have been threatening their parents of venturing outside to play in the streets and the worried parents oblige them with TV remote. "We don't have cable TV but my brother living nearby does have these channels. Just after finishing breakfast they attack my brother's TV and then never let it go," said a parent at Kawdara. "Ours is a volatile area and incase I refuse they will be on roads within no time."
Though experts agree with the concern of parents but they also urge them to involve with their children in a creative manner. "Teaching them daily or allowing them to watch cartoons is fine, but the family should eat together and pray together. Besides they should play those board games with children that involves lot of thinking like chess or block games," said Samir Ahmad, a teacher. "A parent can also take up some projects like building a model house and involve children in it. Don't order your child to do this or do that, but ask him for suggestions. Ask him how can we build it, which piece fits where and what do you think we should do. Encourage a child to think. Throw him some problems and he will come up with creative solutions. Other activity can be asking your child to assemble a toy or any other thing which has been disassembled."
He said that in the absence of materials parents need to be creative to use whatever resource is available to them for better education of child.
Regarding TV, experts suggest subscribing to educational TV channels. "First limit the TV time and let your child to watch Discovery or NatGeo-like channels and explain to them what it is all about," he further added. "Read story books and try radio stations too because when a child listens to a story he visualises the same in his head and thus he gets new creative ideas. Cartoons make everything dumb. This is great time for story telling as the stories would educate the children in a fun way."