A neighbour complaining about the mischief of his neighbour's kids like breaking windowpanes or deflating car tyre is passé. Today's wiz-kids --- socialising on Internet and killing soldiers, conquering new levels in war games on larger-than-life screen games --- have thrown new challenges for parents in Kashmir.
Mushtaq Ahmad (45), a writer by profession, had to approach an information technology (IT) expert to deactivate his 11-year-old kid's Facebook account after his teachers and relatives complained of mischief on social networking websites.
"My son used to criticise his teacher on the Facebook. He wrote about the weakness of the teachers and incorrect information she shared during a class on the website on one of his updates. The teacher came to know about it and requested me to rein in the kid, for he is too young to handle Internet," said Ahmad.
Ahmad said his son played similar pranks with relatives too who are knocking our doors with complaints. "The social networking is not good for kids. One of my son's friends had put up a nasty and obscene profile picture. They are embarrassing us," said Ahmad.
This is a new-age reality the Valley parents have begun to confront with. One conservative estimate suggests there are more than 2.5 lakh Internet users in the state.
"We have moved as a society to a different plane, which is virtual society. It's fraught with dangerous repercussions. Growing up on a virtual plane is unnatural emotional growth and a very quirky childhood," said Dr Arshid Hussain, well-known psychiatrist with Kashmir leading Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital.
Dr Arshid, who has written several papers on mental health in Kashmir for foreign journals, said the new socio-cultural transition driven by the Internet will nurture "a skewed generation". "A teen can befriend women easily on the Internet. I was shocked when I was told by my friend his 13-year-old son came to him saying 'I lost virginity on the Internet' without knowing the meaning of what he was saying," said Dr Arshid.
He blames seclusion and poor interaction for children expressing themselves on the virtual world. "Physical contact between kids has come down. There are no peer groups spending time together, where they can express themselves. Mimicking a teacher would have therapeutic effect on the anger of a kid he holds against his teacher. But the only space left to express is the Internet. So such complaints are smaller manifestations," he said while referring to Mushtaq's son.
Doctors say kids see virtual world as reality, which is not true. "It's not real. Physical interaction and sharing space is real. Even the bonds formed on the Internet are false emotional bond to a great extent," said Dr Arshid.