Do you remember the thick hardcover book that we clung on to as we got into bed? It’s glossy pages and the splash of colors that adorned its stories? Remember the jitters and the excitement, as our mothers’ would read out the ending of a story? Do you also remember how much we looked forward to that one hour of story session before we would doze off, cradled close to our mothers and dream of nothing but magic?
Growing up, did we lose that magic? The magic around which our entire universe revolved. Magic that made us believe that anything and everything was possible.
In my humble opinion, I feel that children these days are missing out on those experiences that we, as the 90’s kids, were the last ones to go through. A personal bond that brought us closer to our parents. A bond that helped us interact with people. To look them in the eye and talk about our favorite book characters. An activity that allowed us to indulge in an exciting conversation revolving around new book releases, local authors, or the infamous ones like Agatha Christie and Stephen King.
Now, everywhere I look, I mostly see a disturbing sight. A sight that deeply worries me on a personal level. I see the trend of buying and reading books dying. Replaced with an urgent need of purchasing the latest gadgets, and the fascination they now have to offer.
A sight that one often witnesses now is that of a young mother, tired of the constant wailing of her 5-year-old son, handing him her phone that plays Tom and Jerry or Shaun the Sheep on repeat.
It must be a temporary relief for the overworked mother, I am sure. But a loss for her son in the long run, who loses interest in the people around him. Who doesn’t attempt to interact with kids his age. For he has his own tablet or phone to give him company. And he loses precious time at night, where he could question incessantly about a new story his parents would read out to him.
Imagine the above scenario. One must question the increasing trend of nuclear families where both the husband and wife work round the clock. The small number of family members per household also means kids meet fewer people on a regular basis. To keep their children occupied, and to manage the household chores, combined with the office work that working parents are tasked with every day, most of the parents seek relief in the free streams of endless cartoons that the internet offered their children. Without a second thought, they allow their children to get hooked on TV shows and games on their personal gadgets.
However, they didn’t stop to notice the changing behavior of their children.
They missed out on how less their child spoke. How irritable (s)he would feel when the cartoons weren’t being played. How no one rang their doorbell to drop their kid at home to help them socialize and make new friends. But most importantly, they forgot the joy that they had experienced themselves when their parents or grandparents would tell extravagant stories of warriors, fairies, dying kingdoms, or of the magical worlds that one can only imagine. Where each character had a different hue, each story had a moral lesson bound at its core, and how each story had a unique ending every time it was told because the narrator and the audience would add their personal essence to the story making it renowned in a particular way.
The dying trend of bed time stories is not only affecting children and their imagination. It is also affecting the strength of their vocabulary and speaking abilities.
When children don’t have adults to accompany them in exploring magical worlds, they have no one to turn to ask for questions, no one to predict the turn of events in a fictitious tale and no one to bond over the exciting intricacies of the stories. Children start becoming restless and aggressive when they don’t have their favorite shows on, and so they retaliate. They skip their meals. They cry loudly making you irritable, in turn, as well.
And so this kicks off a vicious cycle. Where each equation of happiness has a tech device as an end result.
So now finally the night approaches. You see your child climb into bed with YOUR phone, that is tightly clutched in their hands. You are amazed at the speed with which they unlock the “child lock” you had put on. It sends chills down your spine when your five years old knows how to play “Baby Looney Tunes” first episode of season 2 on Youtube. You say your goodbyes but they refuse to look at you. They rob you of the hug you wanted to give with a peck on their chubby cheek.
Because now, after all, your child has the phone to give them the smiles, the laughs, and the cuddles they want at night.