I COULD not help but feel deep remorse for the young generation these days. The moment they start their childhood, their eyes and attention are glued to the screens of smartphones and tablets. They even know how to operate these intricate devices at such a young age.
I did an internship two years ago in an international school, and this cheerful seven-year-old boy (let’s call him Josh) gleefully told me that it was his birthday. Feeling happy for Josh, I asked: “Are you going to get any gifts?” He replied with a grin: “Yes, my Daddy is getting me an iPhone.”
I was shocked and appalled with Josh’s response. A seven-year-old child getting an iPhone? Growing up, the best birthday gift I’d ever received was a little toy car (and it was not even the Hot Wheels type)! Just to keep the conversation going, I asked Josh: “Why is your Daddy getting you an iPhone?”
“Well, I have always wanted one! I’ve been asking my Daddy to buy me one, and he promised to get me one on my birthday!” Josh replied.
“Don’t you want a toy or something to play with?” I asked.
“No way! Toys are boring, iPhones are better!”
This conversation, although relatable to some, hit me with the realisation of how times have changed. I hypothesised that children these days are becoming too dependent on technology.
As a millennial (and I believe that most millennials would relate with this), I feel that I existed at the perfect time because we had a great childhood where we spent most of our time with friends, cycling, playing basketball, football and etc.
We were even exposed to traditional games like gasing, galah panjang and batu seremban. It was also a time when we saw technology evolving before our very eyes (from floppy disks to thumb drives, dial-up Internet to WiFi, NTSC 4:3 colour TVs to widescreen HD TVs, and etc.).
People would be in awe if they see kids playing outside these days, and this makes me sad and disappointed.
Our current generation is starting to own a smartphone at such a young age. They say it’s to keep them up-to-date with their friends (social media), a perfect way to kill time (mobile games) and to entertain themselves with videos.
According to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s faculty of science contact lens specialist Prof Dr Haliza Abdul Mutalib, there has been a rise in the number of young children wearing glasses, and her youngest patient is a three-year-old, “Country seeing more young children wearing glasses” (The Star, Oct 6, 2014). She attributed this to children spending too much time on electronic gadgets. The strong blue light rays emitted by these devices can cause a rapid deterioration in eyesight and can even disrupt the sleep cycle.
The Internet, although filled with brain-stimulating information, has potentially dangerous content that can manipulate and influence children, like the infamous Tide Pod Challenge and the Kylie Jenner Lips Challenge. And we are all aware that children are easily brainwashed and influenced at such a young age.
Additionally, there are too many celebrities and people who only advocate stupidity and idiocies (for example Jake Paul and Logan Paul). The worst of it all is that these people are getting famous because their audience, the young generation, thinks they are cool for behaving in such a way.
In my younger days, songs had meaning and a nice ring to them. But now, most of the songs are just noisy, head-wrenching and filled with lyrics laced with filth and profanities. It is very rare to find songs like Perfect by Ed Sheeran.
The addiction and extreme dependence on technology has taken over most of the youths’ lives. It would be a miracle if they survived a whole day or even a full hour without these devices.
Since they are not taught to be independent from a young age, it will be a difficult world for them when they grow up because they have been programmed to surround themselves with technology.
They were not brought up in an environment where it is really fun to play outside with friends and parents are actually strict in how children spend their time.
To parents everywhere, if you have a child who loves watching, or has ever watched content like these, please be wary. As parents, it is your duty to monitor what your child watches or listens to.
If I were a parent, I would strictly not have my child own a smartphone or tablet because I want them to become intellectuals and ethical people.