When your toddler swipes your smart phone to hear some queer sound do you feel scared? Do you feel worried when your 12 year old locks his door and sits all through night with the laptop or smart phone?.
A great revolution is taking place around you. The digital world has opened the flood gates and none can with hold its fast currents. Dr. Sajith Cyriacs’ latest book “Raising a Digital generation”(published by Better Yourself Books&Media Pvt Ltd, 58/23rd TPS III Bandra ,Mumbai 40005) is an eye opening, thought provoking book which can be of immense value for parents, teachers and all those interested in molding the next generation. This is a significant and most relevant topic of discussion in the present context of fast ever technological advances. The author has made a remarkable achievement in assessing the impact of the digital gadgets, offering insights into the working of the young minds. One is appalled by the speed at which the new generation kids have plunged themselves and acclimatized into the virtual world. Like it or not they are engrossed in their lone world virtually all through the night. Gone all the days when we used to say early to bed etc..Now it is late to bed and late to rise. Parents are obviously burdened with the thoughts as to how to discipline them. The book gives apt answers to all our questions on the subject. Let us take a peak on the issues and topics analyzed in the book.
Touching every realm of life
A vital component in our daily life the Digital media has components of text, audio, video and graphics transmitted through internet using digital signals.
It is the culmination of technologies resulting in a fusion of various media functions all on a single screen. In other words you need not switch on your radio or TV or thumb through the Newspaper. All those things are now available on a smarter platform which works far more efficiently and enticingly. What more you have greater mobility which enables you to hide in any den and plug into the new world undisturbed. Old time media needed to push, but the internet is a puller of crowds in itself.
Digital technology offers a cut off time and space engaging your all senses simultaneously. Your audio, video and graphics offering fleeting pleasure!.And as a next step you step into virtual friendships and virtual communities.
Understand the digital Generation
Dr. Sajith tells us that we need to understand the young ones born this new era. Some of them are occasional visitors to the digital media with no specific periodicity. Others are habitual fulltime and regular visitors.
The visitors tend to be more tech –savvy, knowledgeable, well informed and with a greater confidence, clarity of thoughts and expression. They have greater creativity and uninhibited imagination. They like to explore things and have a capacity for taking risks. By nature they are more individualistic. Mind well they are always looking for exciting new products in the market.
Their greatest flaw is that they are sometimes paradoxical, wrestling with conflicting ideas. For instance they enjoy leisure but derive no fun. They are well connected and yet lonely. They are humanitarians all around but stingy about own money. They have information at fingertips but short on practical wisdom.
The author invites our attention to the problem of inadequate understanding of this generation. Their friendships are fostered by network sites .They feel more like taking the opinions of their peer group rather than that of parents. Parents also cannot acknowledge the fact that the new generation is a lot smarter and skillful. The kids feel the concepts and ideologies of the elders are no more relevant. The gap tends to widen making the parents more anxious. Here what is needed is a perfect understanding of the new generation.
A new life style
While travelling, eating, walking, sleeping you have a smart phone next to you and late into the night you are welded to digital gadgets. Dr. Sajith reminds us that the Selfie culture reinforces implicit concentration on self making one oblivious of others around you.
Another aspect of this new culture is that they ignore brand loyalty unlike their parents. Further in the new order not alone actors or sportsmen are celebrities. They can create their own celebrities over the media out of people from any walk or cadre.
Dr.Sajith underscores the need to understand the new culture. The more you understand the better equipped you are able to deal with them.
Easy way out
Digital world offers exile to kids from day to day burdens and annoying elders. This kind of escapism can have serious repercussions and aftermaths.
Digital devices also offer immense gratification on sensory pleasure creating excitements making palms wet and spurting blood flow. All these are just a click away making things easy.
What kind of personal identity a kid keeps, what do others think of them etc. are always matters they can experiment with alternative identities. All these take them to a level of fantasy and aspiration. The psychological impact of all these also need to be explored.
The advent of this new digital culture we cannot stop in any manner. Sooner or later the kids would get into that rocket speed train. The anecdote suggested to parents for this by the author is to acquire proper knowledge on the digital devices. Kids can easily sense that you are there in the same space with them. It can have an excellent impact on their molding.
Dr.Sajith classifies elders in 3 categories as avoiders, reluctant adopters, and eager adaptors .We need to find ourselves as to which category we belong to. There is no need to get scared or feel helpless when the kids show an excited and mad attachment to the new gadgets. Let us identify our own perceptions and feelings. Those who are active themselves in the digital arena should devote some time for the kids and have a live dialogue. You have to be a good model for the kids and have to teach by examples.
Dr.Sajith classifies the levels of parenting exercised in various patterns and suggests authoritative parenting for effective results. Installing filters and constant monitoring alone may not suffice. What is most important is not to leave an impression that you don’t trust. Too much of control is undesirable and it is such kids later in their adolescence become aggressive and abusive in their digital interaction. While setting the rules of media usage do explain the rationale behind.
We must know the child. A proper understanding, support, appreciation, empathy, trust and respect can make a wonderful difference. You can also set a tech driven method to protect and set time limit for media usage.
Digital health is an area which deserves adequate attention and there is a full chapter explaining as to how a proper health can be ensured. Net gives relaxation can be myth, for excessive use brings about stress. Feeling being isolated from the real world can bring about depression. Excessive use effects on brain and creates sight problems. Narcissism is another offshoot of the Selfie culture with serious problems. Many frequent users have insomnia and sleep disorders.
The book also covers contentious issues like online friendship, dating, addiction, digital behavior, safety etc. Unwary of consequences many users do the cut-paste thing within a flip of a second and fall into the trap of plagiarism related claims and legal action.
The book with a futuristic outlook is a vital guide in the hands of parents and all those interested in the future of the next generation. It discusses all the important issues with crystal clarity. The author is a veteran scholar who has spent considerable time in universities abroad and has published many informative and authoritative books on a plethora of subjects. This work is a unique,worthwhile study opening up many areas hither to not discussed in any such book on the digital media.
Author: Dr. Sajith Cyriac
The available sources of the book:
St Paul Book & Art Centre, Broadway, Ernakulam- 682031
Sajith Cyriac (Mob:9496160808)
Price: Rs. 250/-