CHENNAI:Parents are known to seize their child’s phones well before exams, thinking that lack of distractions will spell better scores. However, experts believe that snatching away phones, usually the primary means of access to social media, could do more harm than good during these stressful times.
J S Venkatramani, a child psychologist from the city, believes that parents often underestimate social media addiction and discount the effects that snatching away phones can have on their children, who have grown up in this virtually connected world.“Social media addiction is just as bad as cigarette or alcohol addiction, if not worse,” he said, explaining that it often goes unnoticed because it is a “white habit”.
Sai Akash, a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya in Tambaram, decided to voluntarily surrender his phone a month ago. “I couldn’t get off Facebook,” he said. However, he is one of the few who were able to acknowledge their addiction.
He confides that he suffers bouts of loneliness and misses being tagged in memes.“My friends are being asked to surrender their phones. Soon it will be taken from them,” he said. While Akash had the time to get acclimatised to a virtually disconnected life before the exams, his friends will not have that luxury.
Studies have shown that acknowledgements such as ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘story views’ activate positive receptors in the brains just as winning money in a lottery does.
Venkatramani believes that quitting social media cold turkey can have adverse effects.“The children won’t be able to concentrate. They will constantly wonder who has messaged them or liked their photos. Memory retention will also take a hit and they won’t be able to properly reproduce what they study in the exam,” he said.Dr U Gauthamadas,a senior consultant in neuro-behavioural medicine, says “just seizing the child’s mobile often breeds resentment with no improvement or even worsening of behaviour and academic performance.”
When Express contacted parents of a few students taking the board exam this year, they all said that precautionary measures have to be taken before the most important phase of their child’s life and said that phone addiction is something that we have been trying to address since the beginning of the academic year.
“At some point the phones must go. If not now, when?,” argued a mother, who requested anonymity.
Both Dr U Gauthamadas and Venkatramani advocate moderation and limited phone use but not complete deprivation.
Rajalakshmi Jayanandan, a headmistress in a private school near the city, says, “it is not right to enforce restrictions on high schoolers.”“Parents have to bring up children in a way where they know for themselves what is beneficial for their lives,’ she said.