Bengaluru: While schools are today trying to use technology and the Internet to enhance their students’ learning experience, it can impact children in more negative ways unless parents keep a close watch on them, warn psychologists.
"Increased use of social media and the Internet often leads children to believe in an alternate reality, which, in turn, causes depression and anxiety among them. Parents introduce children to the internet because they don’t have the time to interact with them personally or want their child to be up-to-date on issues, but this can be harmful to them in the long run,” they stress.
Experts point out that while the Internet provides children with useful information, it also has a dark side to it such as cyber-bullying, cyber-suicides, click baits leading to inappropriate content, pornography, and online scams such as identity theft, which they need to be protected from.
Says Dr.Sahana Tantry, psychologist and outreach associate, Mpower The Centre, "Parents should be empathetic and supportive while talking about the kind of behaviour that is acceptable on the Internet and those that are not. Such etiquette will not only educate their children about the Net, but will also warn them about the kind of behaviour that is not acceptable for them too."
Dr. B N Gangadhar, director, NIMHANS, notes that parents fail to treat their children like friends or spend time with them due to their busy lives and this causes them to spend more time on the internet whenever it is available. “Children today find the internet more interesting than physical play. Parents should create an environment in which the children feel they like spending time with them. If this is done by playing with them and so on, it will result in lesser use of the Internet and give it fewer chances of harming their mental health," he says.
While it is not possible to stop children from using the Internet altogether, the solution is increased awareness of its pitfalls which parents need to understand first , before acquainting their children with them, say experts. “ Supervising usage does not mean giving them a schedule or telling them which websites to access. Instead, it can be done in ways that your child does not feel restricted,” they explain. Emphasising the need to use the Internet as a reinforcement of the children’s learning material and to drive them towards desirable behaviour, they suggest its use should be allowed as a reward and not as a matter of routine in their best interests.