CHENNAI: The Schools have closed and the children are home. While the worry about their kids contracting COVID-19 has subdued, parents are now pondering how to make their children stay engaged at home. Many parents feel that “all time will become screen time” for their children until schools reopen.
“It has barely been a day since the schools closed and I have not been able to persuade my 10-year-old son from dropping the iPad,” said Sam Jefferson, a software engineer who has been allowed to work from home after the announcement of the pandemic.
“Whenever I asked him to put the device away, he asks me to keep my laptop away. I cannot work without it and so, it is my son who won the argument for the day,” he said. In many houses, it is either TV, cell phone or computer that keeps children stay indoor. Restless children are starting a staring contest with the screens at home. However, excessive use of electronic devices will make children extremely irritable and this is not desirable, says Dr Debmita Dutta, a parenting consultant and founder of www.whatparentsask.com.
“Devices trigger dopamine secretion in the body like other forms of addiction. So when it is withdrawn, they get very irritated,” she said. She said parents can use this time as a golden opportunity to engage with them differently. “Children ask to watch TV or play on computers when they are bored and parents are terrified of this boredom. What they do not realise is that boredom is great. Kids will start thinking creatively and explore many new activities on their own only when they are bored,” she said.
Express also spoke to some parents on techniques that have worked in keeping their children engaged. “We never get to speak to children about our past or tell them about my childhood. So I gave them all my childhood photos and their childhood photos and asked them to make insert them into empty albums chronologically,” said Gayathri Kannan, a mother. “I also used this as a chance to tell my children about my parents and their origins.” Vivian Kapil, a psychiatrist, said children may cooperate if they are informed properly about the reason they are being kept indoors.
Keepers of the city, but no safeguards yet
Chennai: In the efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay, one key group seems to have been missed out: 20,000-odd sanitary workers who keep Chennai clean. They are still going about their business without any safety gears. They complain that they segregate waste with bare hands and interact with sick people without masks.
Unorganised sector workers heavily hit
Chennai: While most of the city shut down on Tuesday, the worst-affected section is people working in unorganised sector. A lot of daily labourers have been asked to get back to work only after the scare settles. Security personnel also face the same problem. Cab and auto drivers say their income has reduced by half.
Schools closed, but teachers still working
Chennai: After the Centre ordered shut down of educational institutions, teachers are requesting the government to either relieve them from work or allow them to work only half a day. Even though there are no students, teachers are still expected to come. They also said they had to take their children to schools.