BENGALURU: It is not just city dwellers who are battling fatigue, lack of sleep, headaches, and red eyes, besides irritability and quarrels with families. Even those living in the relatively quieter environs of villages are facing the issue of digital addiction.
Doctors have found that rural populations are increasingly getting addicted to mobiles and technology, and are as much in need of counselling as people in urban areas are. They said there is a need to create awareness among people about technology addiction and provide medical intervention when required. Dr HS Shashidhar, medical director, of Manasa Group of Hospitals, Chikkaballapur, said there is no difference in the number of people addicted to tech gadgets in rural and urban setups. People sitting near tea stalls in villages, thumbing mobiles, are a more common sight than those playing or doing other physical activities.
During consultations with doctors, the most common complaint by parents is that their child refuses to eat without watching something on the screen. They say the child is adamant and does not obey them unless given a phone in hand. Digital detox centres, recently started by Dr Shashidhar, are first-of-its-kind rural centres set up to provide free consultations to children and parents.
Pranjali Chakraborty Thakur, a PhD scholar from the National Institute of Mental Health Sciences (Nimhans) also said that post-pandemic, technology addiction has become a serious issue. Nimhans started ‘Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinics' in 2014 to address the issue, and recently started a detox helpline to help counsel people to balance the use of technology in their daily routine. Thakur said that many parents call the helpline, seeking help to understand why their children are addicted to tech gadgets and take relevant measures to help them.
To extend help to people in rural areas of Karnataka, Dr Shashidhar plans to open ten more centres in Devanahalli, Yelahanka, Doddaballapur and other districts.