New Age Attention Seeking

Published on 9 Jul 2016 . 4 min read

Children whipping out their smart phones to click selfies is as normal as squirrels scampering up the trees. On roadside, in the malls, restaurants, metro, bus, homes, and in every possible space, they always have a gadget for company. While every new technological innovation has divided the world into two camps of hailers and wailers, the impact of gadgets and social media seems to be changing the way we used to look at childhood and the growing years. The only squirrels they probably get to see are the ones that happen to be on a gadget screen.

Nisha Sharma, a freelance home furnishing and accessory designer, tries to devote as much time as possible to her two boys. Yet, she has to resort to the television and the smart phone many times to keep them engaged so she can complete her assignments. While the older one converses like a popular animation character Doraemon, the younger one, all of two years is hooked to BabyTV. While it does have its funny moments, she has observed that the younger one becomes hysterical when his demands are not met with immediately. The demand could be as simple as wanting to be picked.

A question that keeps doing the rounds amongst parents and educators is, are children more driven by attention seeking antics in a bid to be more 'visible' amongst their peer? A teenager's life seems to be consumed with stretching the friend's list on Facebook and increasing his or her followers list on Twitter and other such social media platform. The number of 'likes' will decide his or her mood for the day. While this is true for their virtual life, inadvertently are they seeking the same attention in real life? Honestly speaking, the desire to be popular as an adolescent remains constant across all generations. Only now the results are expected to be instantaneous.  A teen walks into the classroom and shows fresh scars on her limbs to her friends. She waits and watches their reactions. The scars were self inflicted because she was bored and apparently in a lousy mood.

Amol Sridharan, an ex serviceman, presently employed in the private sector believes, social media and gadgets are here to stay and in all probability will increase their tribe. The only way to circumvent this Hydra headed issue is to keep a child engaged in activities and hobby classes that would genuinely interest the child.

Raising children to grow as balanced individuals has become tougher since our parents and grandparents days. It is no revelation that children today are exposed to information from multiple sources with more chances of them being age inappropriate. So he suggests that to wean them away from virtual world of social media and that of the game world, the first lesson is to practice and not preach. "Are we fair in asking them to stay away while we ourselves are engaged in whatsapping continuously, checking on our profiles and on call even during meal times?"

He firmly believes in diverting their attention from self absorption and introducing them to a world that is much more engaging and deeper than apprehensions with frivolities. This constant focus on the self triggers an unhealthy self consciousness. Latika, a stay at home mom laments her teenaged daughter's concerns with her physical appearance. And she is not the only one. The height is either too short or too tall, the legs are either too thin or too fat, the lips, the hair, the complexion and every other physical attribute comes under excruciating scrutiny. This obsession is driven by the desire to be seen at their best in every frame and on every social media platform.

Don’t  we know that pitfalls have always been there for all generations ? Just as the television was touted to be one, a few decades ago. It’s the speed of events now and instant results  that catches us all in the storm, tossing us around. Sigh! Sometimes it is okay to just watch a real squirrel scamper up a tree and play peek-a-boo among the leaves.  

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Ilakshee Nath
Ilakshee Bhuyan Nath is a freelance writer having contributed to magazines both e-versions as well as print. She donned many hats as TV newsreader, anchor and voice over artiste, teacher, communication specialist before starting on writing while baby-sitting her two daughters. She is an avid traveller, blogger and spectator of life.

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