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‘She won’t let go of the remote control’

Tearing children away from the television or convincing them to stop surfing and spend some time on the playground are daily struggles for most parents in Mumbai.

mumbai Updated: Jun 15, 2011 01:26 IST
Sarakshi Rai
Sarakshi Rai
Hindustan Times

Challenge: Overexposure to TV, films, internet; consumerism

Family: The Chavans, Churchgate

Tearing children away from the television or convincing them to stop surfing and spend some time on the playground are daily struggles for most parents in Mumbai.

Being tech-savvy and curious, the new generation is spending long hours before the idiot box and on the internet, making them substitutes for outdoor exercise and exploration. Children might be overexposed to both these mediums, but they look upon the TV and internet as their primary information sources. The flood of chatter, online drama and relationships can be addictive.

Imagine coming home after a long day at work to find that your main source of entertainment is being monopolised by your four-year-old. That’s one of the major problems young parents Sarika and Sachin Chavan face when it comes to their daughter Sia. The Chavans live at Churchgate and Sarika is a senior image consultant at a public relations firm, while Sachin owns a placement agency.

Sia, being only three, has a huge affinity for the TV and her parents rue that they know more about what’s happening on children’s channels than on other more adult ones. Sarika laughingly says, “I can’t even get my hands on the remote control, let alone decide what channels to watch.”

Inventive marketing campaigns and consumerism have also had a huge impact on their lives. Sia is extremely particular about what brand of shampoo and soap she uses and only uses the ones that have the advertisements that feature a mother and her child, she absolutely refuses to use any others.

Her morning breakfast comprises of cereal, which gives her a free Rapunzel clip with the box. While shopping at the mall once, she recognised a familiar chocolate shaped like an egg and insisted her mother buy it for her, thanks to the innovative and repetitive advertisements frequently played on the children’s TV networks.

Despite her preference for the TV, Sia is an extremely active child and indulges in a lot of physical activity every day. She loves going to the park and meeting children her age. Sarika has often thought about enrolling her in an activity class but since the minimum age is five years there’s still time for it.

Junk food, thankfully, isn’t a problem. Sia prefers chapatis to chips and pizzas. A burger-chips-cola combo, though, is a meal the entire family enjoys and is probably the only junk food Sia willingly eats.

First Published: Jun 15, 2011 01:25 IST