Digital Detox programme gets kids hooked offline

Children clock in six to eight hours of gadget-time per day; there's a high need for them to get a detox

Published: 23rd April 2018 10:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th April 2018 04:44 AM   |  A+A-

Children at the programme

Express News Service

BENGALURU : The Digital Detox programme is the brain child of a 14-year-old CEO and a start-up that works with parents and children on life centred learning. The saying, 'many hands make light work' rings true when Smaran Rathan, 14-year-old CEO of Indigo Tents and Ishwarya Kumar, founder of startup, Upturn Learning Solutions, put their heads together to create a digital detox programme for children.
The makers of the programme are just as interesting as the five-day workshop.

Smaran started an initiative for children to showcase their talents in a non-competitive space. For instance, he organised 'Ready Steady Shine' where children got to display their talent, alongside a flea market to sell their products on the side.Ishwarya's company works towards making parenthood and childhood a better experience. Using automated tools, apps, products, huddles and research, they help in generating self awareness, career planning and more.

"We came across research that children clock in six to eight hours of gadget-time per day. On tabs, apps, and toggling between screens, starting from the age of six. We wanted children to think beyond the overwhelming amount of gadget-time they are clocking. The programme was a success," says Ishwarya Kumar, adding that gadget usage had come down by 50 per cent by the end of the course.Smaran says, “I heard about the plan on having a digital detox programme and contributed to its making. We crafted several sessions with the city's best mentors and peers. Talking to children about leadership, entrepreneurship, gardening, photography, baking, authoring, and so on and so forth."

He adds, "I took a three-hour class on entrepreneurship based on my personal experience, setbacks, and aspects through games and activities. If we just spoke about it without any interaction, no kid would listen to it. By the end of it, the participants came up with their own business plans."Ishwarya emphasise that Digital Detox is not a one-time-solution and is here to stay with the children. "For instance, we called Rosa Astronomy to tell children about them. Now they remain connected with 26 children, notifying them on the next star gazing camp; they tell them when the International Space Station will be visible to the Bengaluru sky," she adds.

For 10-15-year-old children, a five-day digital detox programme has been created, backed by research on the overwhelming gadget-time children are clocking. It initiates children to think beyond gadgets by creating associations with superhero play, gardening, composting, theatre, baking, photography, writing and entrepreneurial thinking.

A week before the event, Ishwarya says the children could not keep their hands off gadgets for even an hour but once they were introduced to better associations and activities, they were hooked offline.
"A mentor who gave the leadership programme, asked the kids to think of their favourite superheroes. They are confident and help the world. Of course, in the present day, our villains are poverty, corruption and the like. The course taught us how to be leaders, identify problems and find solutions to save the world when we grow up," he says.

Ishwarya says weekly meetups will be held and participants can discuss about the theme for the meetup. 
Smaran's initiative, Indigo Tents, holds similar values to those of digital detox. "Competition demoralises children. I wanted to do something to help other children, so they can showcase their talent," he says.
For more details, log onto upturnlearning.com or theindigotents.com.

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