Smartphone addiction amid COVID-19 pandemic

Smartphone addiction has become an issue of serious concern for all age groups, but the addiction of children towards these phones is seen as a dangerous trend by researchers. Smartphone addiction is not less harmful than alcoholism or drug abuse. During the on ongoing COVID-19 pandemic this addition has increased manifold. The reason of smartphone addiction is that these electronic gadgets are easy to carry and young boys and girls can use them anywhere and whenever they want. More than this the multifunctional features of smartphones makes it easier to do many things at a time. During the first three to four months of COVID-19 pandemic people became more addicted to smartphones. Those children who were hardly addicted to android cellphones also got addicted to it during COVID-19 lockdown.

Addiction during COVID-19

The addiction to Smartphones and internet has increased alarmingly among children and teenagers during on-going COVID-19 pandemic.  This addiction is a kind of secret pandemic which is a very dangerous trend. The COVID 19 pandemic is essentially an invisible enemy. Being forced to stay at home is also very difficult for children with developmental disorders like attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder or those on the autism spectrum as a lot of therapies to treat them suggest intense counseling and therapy based on physical activity. During the COVID 19 lockdown all the activities related to teaching or learning process, the smartphones have emerged as the most preferred medium for virtual learning and teaching.

Personal observation

Every time when I meet parents during the parent-teacher meetings, the first response I receive from parents is that their children are constantly busy on smartphones. After waking up early in the morning children ask for a smartphone, if the parents deny the access, they start watching  television or spend time with a computer which again is not good.  Games, games and games is the only motivation behind use of cellphones by younger children. Our children are so much addicted to the smartphone games that many kids lost life while playing PUBG game. The problem with these games is that there are few such games which make kids violent and increases tendencies of violence among children and teenagers.

I met with some parents, who feel proud that their little kid is operating a smartphone which the parents are unable to operate. This makes children more confident to play different games on smartphones and with the passage of time this proves fatal. Such activities don’t  actually increases intelligence coefficient (IQ) as this is disastrous in the long run as playing games or watching movies constantly effects the brains grey matter and inculcates undesirable habits in our children  to the extent that they become over reactive towards little disturbance while playing  games.

Survey reports

Results of a 2016 common sense media report found that 50% of teens “feel addicted” to mobile devices, while 59% of parents believe that kids are addicted to their devices. 95%of teens have access to smart phones. A study conducted by Jaipur-based JK Lone Children’s hospital has found that the lockdown restrictions, from March 25th  to contain the spread of COVID 19 pandemic had an adverse impact on the physical, mental and emotional health of the impressionable minds, resulting in an addiction to electronic devices, obesity, and an irritable behavioral pattern.

Conclusion

World is changing at a very great pace especially with new inventions and technological boom in Information Technology (IT) sector. In such a scenario to maintain the equilibrium between these changes and human brain is definitely a challenging task, hence one must learn how to exercise control and to know what is important and what is not important at a specified time. Knowledge management, time management and setting the priorities of life should guide our behaviour in using the technological gadgets and services, use of any product should be driven by necessity not by luxury. Parents need to keep a close watch on what the kids as technology has its advantages and disadvantages.  Let school teachers and parents take kids for outings like trekking and hiking in summers. Boys and girls be encouraged to play outdoor games like football, cricket, kho kho, volleyball etc. Let the traditional Kashmiri games like Sazloung be reintroduced in our society. Let us make sure our kids get rid of excessive use of smartphones as its addiction is more dangerous than drug addiction .

The author is Lecturer Botany at Govt Higher Secondary School Pakhar Pora, Budgam