Research suggests even before the children get a year old, they start imitating their parents. Initially a new-born baby imitates facial expressions such as smiling, pouting, opening mouth. Later they imitate actions such as holding on to objects. Finally, as they grow up, they imitate the way dad/ mom talk on phone, the way they sit, walk and so on. In this manner children develop various fine motor and social skills from their parents.
In the early days children used to see their parents doing physical efforts like working in the farm or home and imitated those activities. With the passage of time, the tools for conducting job changed to laptops and mobiles. So now invariably children see their parents glued to mobile and laptop screens.
Hence, children grow up watching their parents using gadgets in various positions on sofa, on bed, on table and chair. Everywhere and Everytime! Most of the time the postures attained during this usage are awkward postures in unergonomic work set up, causing significant long term & permanent damage to the body.
The impact of these unhealthy practices has percolated down to the kids, very rapidly in last couple of pandemic infested years. Research has shown that children spend, on an average, around 5hours/day on screen in awkward postures which has, un-presumably, led to 21% of children suffer from upper back pain, 18% with lower back pain, 13% experiencing eye strains, 11% headache, 6% had irregular sleep and 6% witnessed behavioural changes like ADHD & anxiety.
Bakhtiar Choudhary et al; J Adv Sport Phys Edu, August, 2020; 3(8): 117-120
The study also revealed that negligible number of parents were aware of ergonomics and ramifications of incorrect ergonomics. This has led to a compounded problem, the parent using gadgets in an unergonomic manner, and kids emulating them, at the much younger age, there by exposing the entire family to musculoskeletal disorders.
Whilst the bulk of responsibility lies with the parents, it is also for the larger society to take cognisance of these hazards.
The academic curriculums and teaching methods were promptly upgraded to go digital. Innovative ways to submit homework & conduct tests and engaging extracurricular activities were developed with technology. But a critical piece is yet to be incorporated in the learning process, be it education or life skills.
How should our young kids be dealing with these gadgets and technology???