Locked-down But Not Locked-out

Opting for the right digital educational platforms such as app-coding, robotics, cooking workshops, music instrument classes have significantly shown to improve children’s attention and imagination.

The perils of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic led to humankind witnessing one of the longest lockdowns in history. While much has been spoken about the ensuing wrath it unleashed on people, businesses and the economy, there is seemingly less consideration given to how it could potentially change the young bright minds of the country. Unfortunately, the lockdown kicked-in during the most active period of the year for the kids - the summers. With schools adopting e-learning, plans for summer vacations, outdoor camps and extracurricular activities went off track. The time which these bundles of energy would have otherwise spent meeting their friends or grandparents, learning new skill sets or enjoying vacations with their families were completely thrown out of gear. Their life so to speak was confined to the four walls of their houses, turning it upside down like for most people. Consequently, everything that a child was exposed to during the pre-COVID era from studies to vocations like art, dance and play has now been squeezed into a 13-inch display. 

Undeniably, the time kids spend on multiple screens (TV/Laptop/Tablet/phone) has doubled during the pandemic. According to a recent survey, there has been over 100% increase in screen time amongst children since the lockdown. Increased level of passive screen time affects a child's routine resulting in insufficient sleep time, mood alterations, health issues and attention deficiency which may disrupt learning capabilities and cognitive development. 

Though this is alarming, it is unavoidable given the current situation. With a child being deprived of access to outdoor activities or desired social interaction, it is justified that he/she will look for recreational pastime on the devices lying around. Having said that, the need of the hour is to convert the excess passive screen time into cognitive engagement or screen-based play in the process of device usage. The increase in screen time, especially a passive engagement which includes scrolling through online video sites can slow the learning curve for kids. The predominance of passive engagement with the screen for a prolonged period of time can have serious consequences on a child’s cognitive development and with schools unlikely to resume in the near future, the holistic development of children is undoubtedly an area of worry for most parents. Hence it is crucial for a child to indulge in “interactive screen time” to keep the learning curve progressive, with new skills and learnings being inculcated in a creative manner. 

Platforms with experiential and interactive learning which engage children in practical tasks, logical reasoning have proven to be helpful during these times. While just watching a video on YouTube is passive engagement, however, learning how to play the guitar on YouTube is interactive learning. Similarly, basic activities like editing a picture, writing stories, taking a quiz, problem-solving with some math etc. are a good start for active online engagement. With the right interventions, parents can consciously guide their kids to engage in online activities with a fair amount of balance in passive and active learning. Engaging children on such interactive platforms at home can enhance children’s ability to think, understand, communicate, imagine and remember. 

Opting for the right digital educational platforms such as app-coding, robotics, cooking workshops, music instrument classes have significantly shown to improve children’s attention and imagination. Furthermore, the heightened interest in STEM classes demonstrates the need for options that will not only be beneficial for captivating children’s interest during these times but also augmenting their learning and developing observational, analytical, physical and social skills.  

Physical recreational activities cannot exactly be supplanted by technology, however, during this lockdown, we surely are not locked out to make efficient use of the available resources for the benefit of our children. Given the current times, the focus should be on making screen time for the young ones worthwhile, actively managing device usage and picking the best kind of activities to make this lockdown period constructive and fun for the children.   

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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Locked-down Locked-out

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