D Sreyansh Kumar aged 11 years is an active social media buff having 765 friends on Facebook while 347 persons follow him on Instagram. A Class-VI student from Unit-8 area of Bhubaneswar, he spends nearly six hours every day on his smart phone.
“Before the outbreak of Covid-19, I had sleep early and wake up in the morning to go to school. Now, the situation has completely changed. There is no physical class and I have to spend much time watching my mobile phone before going to bed,” said Sreyansh of his addiction.
“My dance class is also suspended. Though I go outside to play, I am not allowed to stay there for longer time due to fear of contracting Covid-19. Therefore, I devote my time watching mobile phone,” he added.
Sreyansh’s is not an isolated case. Thousands of children are now in the grip of smart phone and social media addiction, as per a study conducted by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The study named ‘Effects (Physical, Behavioural and Psycho-social) of using Mobile Phones and other Devices with Internet Accessibility by Children’ found that only 10.1 percent of children like to use smart phones for online learning and education.
“When asked about the features/facilities that children like to use or enjoy using on smart phones/internet devices, 52.9 percent answered - ‘Chatting’ (using instant messaging apps like WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat)’,” as per the findings of the survey report.
The study data show that 42.9 percent of all valid respondents amongst children confessed to having a social networking account.
As per the collected data, 78.90 percent of children said that they spend between 0-2 hours on smart phones for surfing the internet, playing games, listening to music, and chatting etc., which is quite less compared to popular perception.
The data also reveals that 23.80 percent of children use smart phones while they are in bed, before going to sleep, which is quite a substantial proportion of their daily schedule and a cause for concern.
Dipika Mishra, guardian of a student, said, “After finishing the online classes and other activities, children spend the spare time using smart phones. They are in no mood to listen to us even if we advise them to use the gadget less.”
“We observed that children who spend more time online become more violent and their attention span falls. So, parents have to keep an eye on the activities the children are doing over internet” opined physiologist Amrit Pattajoshi.