Just like schools, extracurricular activities and coaching have also moved online and many parents are struggling to come up with ways to reduce screen usage. (Illustration: Gajanan Nirphale)
Just like schools, extracurricular activities and coaching have also moved online and many parents are struggling to come up with ways to reduce screen usage. (Illustration: Gajanan Nirphale)

Shut schools and online classes turn parents into ‘screen guard’

With schools in the state remaining closed for offline classes for more than 10 months, parents are having a tough time limiting their children’s screen time
By Ankita Bhatkhande
PUBLISHED ON JAN 22, 2021 01:04 AM IST

Merely three months into the lockdown, Praket Patil’s (name changed) parents were already anxious about what was to follow. A Class 5 student of a reputed school in Mumbai’s western suburbs, Praket’s screen addiction had increased massively, as he remained cooped inside his 1-BHK (bedroom-hall-kitchen) apartment with his parents owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

After the schools closed last March and children were confined to their homes, Praket’s screen addiction, which his parents had otherwise tried to put an end through other distractions, seemed to resurface.

“He would be on the phone or on the computer the entire day. For several hours, he would play games or browse the Internet. If we tried to stop him, he would become aggressive. We had seen him being obsessed with devices, but sending him out to play or taking him out on a drive in the past would distract him. But with the lockdown in place, we had no such alternative,” said Praket’s mother Shamika, an IT (information technology) professional.

With schools in the state remaining closed for offline classes for more than 10 months, parents are having a tough time limiting their children’s screen time.

Just like schools, extracurricular activities and coaching have also moved online and many parents are struggling to come up with ways to reduce screen usage. According to a survey conducted by OLX in June 2020, the average screen time for kids between the age of 5 and 15 years had seen a 100% rise since the first phase of lockdown in March 2020. More than half the parents who responded in the nationwide survey said their children were spending nearly five hours more on screens post the lockdown.

Dr Sagar Mundada, a Mumbai-based psychiatrist, said a large number of parents have been approaching him with screen-related concerns.

“While the issue of screen addiction already existed before the Covid-19 outbreak, the lockdown seems to have aggravated the situation. Children are inside their homes and it is thus becoming very difficult for parents to wean them off their devices. In several cases, we have had to prescribe medicines to calm these children as they tend to get aggressive if the screen is taken away from them. A lot of counselling along with medical help has been giving results,” he added.

Praket’s family had approached a nearby psychiatrist a few days after they noticed his symptoms.

“He would attend school for two hours but spend the remaining 10 hours playing games. We tried everything – from positive reinforcements to punishments – but nothing worked. As both my husband and I were working from home, it was an added pressure on us. We then took him to a psychiatrist and he prescribed a few medicines along with some activities that we could do with him. It has been nearly four months now and we can finally see some improvement,” said Shamika.

While the standard operating procedures issued by the Maharashtra government only allow upto three hours of online learning, parents said children are invariably online for one thing or the other. “The school lasts for two-three hours and then there are several assignments which have to be submitted online. Activities like sports and music have also moved online and in addition to all this, children want to use their screens during their breaks. That takes the screen time to three-eight hours a day easily,” said Anita Shetty, a Malad-based parent.

So far, there is no golden number suggesting the optimum number of hours to be spent on the screen. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends less than one hour per day of screen time for children between the ages of two and five years, and limited screen time for children above the age of five years.

The World Health Organization, in its guidelines issued in April 2019, had suggested that children between the ages of two and four should have no more than one hour of screen time per day.

Dr Prachi Agashe, paediatric ophthalmologist and squint specialist from Agashe Hospital in Kurla, said the size of the screen, the type of device used, the brightness and the distance of viewing are significant factors that parents need to keep in mind when children use screens, to avoid the associated risks like myopia and digital eye strain.

“They should also ensure that when there is a break during the online learning session, the child should essentially relax and if needed, do an activity that does not involve migrating to another screen. The time spent on the screen apart from the necessary school hours should be reduced as far as possible,” she added.

Counsellors said they have been encouraging parents to take up online and offline activities with their children to ensure a healthy mix of both.

“For instance, if they watch a small recipe video and then spend some time in actually making that recipe, it is an engaging activity and this is a constructive use of the screen time,” added Raheen Jummani, a Mumbai-based psychologist.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
HT Image
HT Image

9 held for issuing bogus toll receipts at Khed-Shivapur plaza

By Nadeem Inamdar
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 10:39 PM IST
PUNE The Rajgad police on Thursday arrested nine people for issuing bogus toll receipts to commuters passing through the Khed-Shivapur toll plaza on the Pune-Satara highway
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Man strangles wife to death at Mohali’s Amb Sahib Colony

By HT Correspondent, Mohali
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 10:35 PM IST
A migrant labourer strangled his wife to death during an altercation at their house in Amb Sahib Colony, Phase 11, on Wednesday night
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Pune’s temperature touches 35°C; IMD forecasts rise in temperature in first week of March

By Jigar Hindocha
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 09:52 PM IST
PUNE The day temperature in the city has touched the season’s highest as the maximum temperature at Shivajinagar was recorded at 35 degrees Celsius on Thursday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Senior journalist Sada Dumbre passes away

By HTC
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 10:01 PM IST
PUNE Senior journalist Sada Dumbre passed away on Thursday, due to a Covid infection, said his family members
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Ajit Pawar fails to follow up on road widening project in Pune

By Abhay Khairnar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 09:30 PM IST
PUNE As the opposition parties opposed Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) decision to widen city roads from six to nine-metre, Ajit Pawar, deputy chief minister and Pune district guardian minister, had given instructions to put the project on hold until a decision is taken, but PMC has not got anything in writing about the decision
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Political parties in Pune divided over PMC’s road-widening proposal

By Abhay Khairnar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 09:00 PM IST
PUNE Political parties in Pune appear to be divided on the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) decision to widen city roads from six to nine-metre
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PMC, state health dept awaiting final instructions on vaccination for seniors; unlikely to start from Mar 1

By Namrata Devikar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 08:50 PM IST
PUNE Though the central government declared that the vaccination drive for those 60-years of age and higher, and those aged 45-years-plus with comorbidities, will start from March 1, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and state health department is yet to get more details regarding the same
Close
HT Image
HT Image

1,525 fresh cases in Pune district on Thursday

By Namrata Devikar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 08:39 PM IST
PUNE Pune district reported 11,570 active cases in the state, as per the state health department, of which 1,525 are fresh cases reported on Thursday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PCMC’s Covid positivity rate jumps from 6% to 25% in 10 days

By Jigar Hindocha
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 09:28 PM IST
The Covid positivity rate, which was 6 per cent in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation till February 15, has seen a massive surge to 25 per cent, as of February 24
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Mixed response to 9-metre road widening proposal in Pune city

By Abhay Khairnar
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 08:43 PM IST
PUNE The Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC’s) decision to widen city roads from six to nine-metre has received a mix response
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Number of RT-PCR, antigen tests in PMC increased; positivity rate also rising

By Namrata Devikar
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 08:21 PM IST
PUNE Health officials have increased the number of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and Antigen tests in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Pedestrians irked as hawkers encroach footpath on FC road

By Jigar Hindocha
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:50 PM IST
PUNE After missing several deadlines the smart footpath project on Fergusson College road is finally complete, but pedestrians still find it difficult to use it as the footpath has been occupied by illegal hawkers for selling products like clothes, accessories among others
Close
HT Image
HT Image

6 booked for threatening, abusing PMC officials during anti-encroachment drive

By HT Correspondent
UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:47 PM IST
PUNE Six residents of the Bhimnagar slum area were booked for threatening and abusing officials of the anti-encroachment department of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Wednesday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Five officials of auto firm booked after worker dies; wife alleges robot caused fatal mishap

By HTC
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:47 PM IST
PUNE: Five officials of an automobile multinational were booked after a worker died on the company premises Wednesday morning in Chakan
Close
HT Image
HT Image

2 members of Ghaywal gang held, 6 booked for wrongfully taking car from rental service for “rally”

By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON FEB 25, 2021 07:26 PM IST
PUNE The Pune police arrested two and booked six other aides of externee Nilesh Ghaywal for extortion after they wrongfully took a four-wheeler vehicle from a local rental service to hold a “rally” for Ghaywal
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP