BENGALURU : A person gets 2,000 likes on their picture posted on Instagram or Facebook, but two days later, they feel low and depressed. How does that happen? On a mission to explain the connection between devices and one’s overall health, a concerned parent in Bengaluru has started a campaign titled, ‘Time out from plugins’. Tejaswi Uthappa, a freelance writer and parent, is putting the word out on social media, and offline as well.
As ironic as that may seem, she said, “The idea is not abstinence, but knowing where to draw the line between use and overuse. Gadgets were created for a purpose, and we need to learn how to take control of them. On World Mental Health Day (October 10), we pledge to log off from all devices from 7pm to 9pm. We also plan to start a Saturday plug out every week, during the same hours, starting this week.”
Her research on the subject revealed frightening results, which prompted her to start the campaign. “After reaching a particular stage, the damage to the physical structure of the brain is permanent. Neural impulses are affected. For example, a regular brain will look at someone who is hurt and feel something. A digitally-affected brain will not feel empathy.
The part of the brain that helps us feel emotions is cut off. This is precisely what gadgets do — they stop communication inside the brain,” said Tejaswi, adding that the World Health Organisation (WHO) adding digital addiction to their list of mental disorders indicates how serious the matter is.
Hopelessness, depression and feeling lost are some of the psychological symptoms, said Tejaswi. “Several families I know are having a rough time. Kids addicted to gaming and gadgets suffer behavioural issues, aggression, their school performance takes a hit and they do not communicate with their family members at all. I have seen families break down because of the child’s inability to give up his/her phone,” she said.
She conducted a soft launch at Delhi Public School North last week through a street play, cyber wellness campaign and mass pledge to create awareness. In order to curb this digital addiction, Tejaswi will also be coordinating with other schools in the future, hold support group meetings, put parents and children in touch with counsellors, mental health professionals and other experts.