Overexposure to the media — films, TV and the internet — is Mumbai parents’ topmost concern about their children, according to an HT-C fore survey conducted late last month.
Increasing consumerism among children and their vulnerability to marketing propaganda ranked as the second-most serious parenting challenge, with boredom and short attention spans coming in third.
C fore conducted the survey for HT among a statistically selected sample of 523 Mumbai parents with children between 5 and 15 years of age. These families are nuclear and both parents have jobs outside the home.
Respondents were asked to rate ten concerns in order of seriousness (see page 2 for full results of the survey). These ten concerns were provided by a panel of psychologists and counsellors.
“My husband himself is a computer games freak,” said Gauri Mevati, 31, a mid-level executive who lives and works in Navi Mumbai. “So my greatest fear is that my five-year-old son, Aryaman, will get addicted to these games, most of which are violent.”
She also worries about him being influenced by advertisements and marketing, which is related to an overexposure to television and the internet. Peer pressure also plays a role in children’s growing consumerism, she finds.
She says Aryaman insists on eating fast food such as pizza and burgers whenever they go out, partly because he often sees his elder cousins eating these items. In the first part of our series ‘New-age parenting’, on page 2, we take you to the homes of three parents grappling with similar challenges.
Yet Mevati also says with some clever negotiation and a lot of patience, parents can gently counter influences they find harmful. Also, they need to set an example, she says. “Communication is very important,” she says. “It can get very tiring, but you have to keep talking to your child.”
Tomorrow, read about parents tackling these various challenges. Finally, on Friday, read about parenting challenges relating to education, school and learning, and possible ways to address them.