Movies to Inspire You on National Sports Day!

“Wizard of Hockey” – Dhyan Chand’s Birthday 29th August is celebrated as National Sports Day.  After the Berlin Olympics final game in 1936, a German newspaper described his game as – “The Olympic complex now has a magic show too. Visit the hockey stadium to watch the Indian magician Dhyan Chand in action” ..’/

Dhyan Chand -wikipedia

It’s a day to encourage our kids to pursue sports. Sports movies can teach us life lessons which are not only important to pursue any sport but are also required to become good headed individuals and citizens. Whether it is rising above adversities and beating the odds, overcoming mindsets or mental blocks, breaking down barriers & biases or sticking together and taking a stand for what you believe in. For the last bit , ‘Remember the Titans’ is one such fine example, the movie is about players and coaches who must rise above racial prejudice and win games.

Sports is a good way to reduce screen-time and develop locomotor skills.

I was tallying the number of good movies that Indian animation factory has spun out, to my dismay it’s as good as nothing. When the industry will look beyond just numbers and work with good intention to create something meaningful for kids is something that is yet to be seen. Indian cartoons lag far behind what Disney & Pixar have already made.

In the animation arena, a single production by the name of Howzzatt  stands in the sports category, although, I must tell you — its genre can hardly be categorised as sport. The story is about Gulab Nagar Junglees – a bunch of youngsters, who under the coaching and guidance of Sweety Aunty, hone their cricket skills and go against a bunch of big bad bullies, who would play the game but never by the rules. I reserve my ratings on this — this could have been made much better, overall it failed to paddle across the values of sports and inspire the tiny lot to pursue games.

There is no dearth of sports movies but there is a yawning gap when it comes to the animations genre. ‘Chak De! IndiaBhaag Milkha Bhaag, Dangal, Sultan and Mary Kom are quick to recall. But none so far, about the legend on whose birthday National Sports day is celebrated. Heard there is one in the making.

We celebrate laurels that our sports heroes & sheroes bring home but we rarely put them before the tiny tots as examples to follow. We have exemplary lives of Indian sportsmen which can be sketched, computer embedded and moved fast across the rolls.

For our kids, we need good home grown stuff that instils sportsmanship at an early age. Sports teach important lessons like being healthy is important but what our toons sadly promote is:  “Bina samosa khaaye dimaagh ki batti nahi jalti’” (Motu in Chota Bheem) and Chota Bheem himself, youngsters’ favourite protagonist, who guzzles laddoos and tons of sugar with them. We need some hero who can promote healthy eating habits like Popeye who gulps down iron-vitamin rich spinach and beats the shit out!

Here is my list of sports movies that you may like to watch with your kids on this National Sports Day.

·       Iqbal – A boy hard of hearing and without speech, dreams of playing in the Indian cricket team. With perseverance and patience he achieves his dream.

·       The Bad News Bears – A story of no-hope little league which in the end teaches a very important message: trying is all that matters.

·       The Sandlot – Scotty, a young boy joins the local baseball team where he experiences a series of adventures that he never imagined.

·       The Karate Kid – The story of 12-year-old Dre Parker when he moves to a new place with his mother and his struggles to fit in, and standing upto bullies.

·       Cars – About famous race car Lightning McQueen and his team who are invited to compete in the World Grand Prix race. Awesome animated sports movie that emphasizes on importance of friendship and family.

·       Ice Castles – About a girl who wants to be world skating champion but meets with an accident. Wonderful story of rising above the odds.

·       Little Giants – Father makes a football team with his daughter and other outcast kids to put a challenge to his own son.

Play and stay healthy!

Why I want mums to be concerned about Cartoons?

how i got successWhy do I write ToonyMum ?

I write because I have love-hate relationship with cartoons. This is a reason but not exactly what motivates me to dedicate a good morsel of my days’ time to dig my teeth into the role of toonymum with gumptions.

Professor Sean Brotherson of Oregon State University says:

“A child’s brain is like a house that has just been built. The walls are up, the doors are hung. Then you go to the store and buy electrical wiring, switches, a fuse box and other electrical supplies, you bring these supplies to the new house and set them on the floor. Will they work? Probably not. You first must string the wiring and hook up all of the connections. This is quite similar to the way our brains are formed.”

https://families.media/cartoons-and-young-children

Lets have a look at some statistics now –

In a research performed by the researcher Kayla Bois & Brad Bushman “Michigan University”, they summed up the cartoon content in our Children Schedules as follows:

2 – 5 years old children watch cartoon 32 hrs. Weekly.

6 – 11 years old children watch cartoon 28 hrs. Weekly.

And they stated that:

71% of 8 – 18 years old has a TV in their rooms.

53% of 7 – 12 years old has no parental monitoring for what being watched on TV.

51% of homes: TV is switched on most of time.

So they are neck-close and we cant avoid them.

And this –

“Children who consistently spend more than four hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight” (Ben-Joseph, 2016).

I like their funny hunky dory way and the ease with which a good message can be passed on in non-serious way.

There is lot which can be learned through them, I learned British way of English through Octonauts.

I too switch on the TV for the sake of it and when I need “me-time

Having said this all there is still a lot we can do to control & monitor what flows in.

………and this is why I write toonymum to give  heads up for what is wrong and how can we deal with it.

I want to paddle across following messages to all children and all mums & dads-

1.       Cartoons are fun but fun that is laced with some wisdom and learnings is worth sitting for hours but fun which is surrogacy for violence or vulgarity is what we have to guard ourselves.

2.      Young minds are too subtle to process, funnel & filter what is shown to  in vibrant, dazzling colours, so listen to  mum & dad.

3.      Don’t – Don’t make cartoons your idol or role model, discover your original self and stay unique.

4.      Don’t trust any product just because your favorite toon character is selling that. Read labels, compare cost.

5.      Go out and meet real people more because to fight evil & wrong you don’t have to resort to kicks & punches, use wit & wisdom.

6.      Anything that does not require to flex your mind muscle, is not worth wasting hours. The more you use your brain the better it will get ….. so play games, no not on screen !

7.       Question everything, why, what and how of things you watch and discuss with elders.

8.      Watch you age recommended cartoons. Why ? because you don’t eat grown up’s medicines too.

9.      Remember the good message, because stories help in later life to build perspective and improve understanding , like what Tex said in Cars  “There is whole lot more to racing than just winning” or what Peter Pan said – “All it takes is little faith and trust”incredibles

10.   Research says -Thinking and imagination are of the most factors that affect the functionality of the brain till the age of 12. The early years are important. Don’t feed your mind with junk!

 There was a wise man who said till boat floats on water it is good but when water enters the boat, it drowns.

Choose wisely what you watch.

 

Yours sincerely

ToonyMum

How I Finally Got Success In Limiting The Screen Time Of My Overindulgent Daughter?

Toony Mum

Much to my chagrin, my husband bought an iPad for my daughter on her second birthday. As if the non-stop cartoon network wasn’t enough! I was then working in a 9 to 6 job and my daughter was taken care of by her grandparents – who, if you know Indian grandparents – were raining their mushy slushy love for their grandchild by allowing her to do things ‘her’ way. My weekends were usually spent on running errands. The end result was that my 2-year-old was becoming an expert in video games and a walking encyclopedia on cartoons.

I swear I’m not exaggerating. I’ve had several moments of uneasiness listening to her impeccable knowledge on cartoon genealogy when I wouldn’t even know my great grandfather’s name. My smiles at her gaming feats would diffuse into thin air when she would throw tantrums and make a terrible racket as soon as the…

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How cartoons affect gender development?


81bVXDLeImL._SX425_My fast growing up seven years old has started to question my ‘objections and affections’ for her cartoons. Recently she has built strong liking for a cartoon series Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. Once I was watching it with her and  I saw something that was caught up by my ‘picky mom radar’.

First let me tell you why I am going to write against it and then I will tell you the answers I am going to give to my daughter who has been demanding an explanation as to ‘why am I discouraging her to watch it’. She is really annoyed. I am hopeful, I can reason out that with her.  

For the benefit of those who don’t know about this cartoon, let me just quickly walk you through the plot. There is one female superhero and male superhero named Ladybug and Cat Noir respectively. There is lots of action, creative thinking and teamwork but the problem is somewhere in between I have strong objections to the stereotypical presentation of the female lead. Why the best effort to break gender stereotype ends up doing something altogether the opposite?. I find her terrible -terrible example for young minds that shows ‘ girls want to be kissed’ , ‘going weak in knees’ in front of charming boys. It’s a show about ‘obsession’. Noir who is otherwise a shy and reserved guy becomes a flirt when he is Cat Noir.

The other problem I have with this show is sexualized presentation of the lead character. Tight clothes are okey because then how would she make moves and overpower the evil guy. The focus is wrong. The focus is more on her pelvic region and less on her face. At the onset, you see her buttocks and then she turns to give a full look. She is all the time drooling over Cat Noir and often fall short of fulling her superhero duties while going weak in knees in her ‘obsession’ ‘s presence. This show runs in domain of gender stereotyping that girls  –  run after boys.

If this is what being served daily to tender eyes, how will they see the world and themselves?

Lets talk about some other cartoons, our own very brave Chota Bhim. He is the one taking leads in all problem while the only female character out of other six characters – Chutki is seen exhibiting ‘female appropriate emotions’, praying for Bhim’s victory and offering him Laddoos.

Nobita & Shin Chan’s moms who are homemakers, are shown as rude, irritated and loud women. Shizuka despite having good grades and intelligent sincere mind wants to be a ‘ good house wife’. Wow !

At times I ponder over why is that women take backseat and understate their own needs and desires or why they think they are insignificant because they are conditioned to see themselves as ‘insignificant’. There are quite a number of cartoons which show that one of the two genders is dominant and important  while the other is insignificant and always in need of protection. One should not display sadness and fear, and the other should not displays anger and aggression.

 

 

 

How to save children from dark side of cyberworld?

  I was searching for ideas to make a bunnymask for my daughter’s school activity and the search engine spun out some “No-no don’t look at” pictures of sexy aunties too. A naïve search can land you anywhere in the cyberworld. There is a seamy and sordid side of internet that we need to ward off from our house safe-internetand keep our children away.

First thing that never fail and always work is gaining trust of your kids and engaging them in dialogue about the good, bad and evil sides of internet. You can switch on this conversation while walking them to park, watching TV, surfing on net. Its an ongoing thing that you may have to repeat many a times. Let them know you want them to be safe. Let them know these very important things –

* never to give their name, phone number, e-mail address, password, postal address, school, or picture without your permission
* not to open e-mail from people they don’t know
* not to respond to hurtful or disturbing messages
* not to get together with anyone they “meet” online

Second thing that will help you get better hold and understanding of the bugs that needs to be fixed is knowing there cyberplayground. Join them often when they play games, watch videos and cartoons on Youtube. Keep an eye open for what all is there in recommended list.

Tim Loden who is a staff director of the Internet Education Foundation GetNetWise said a very wise thing that, “Parents have to get involved. Just as they know every detail of the playground around the corner  — the jungle gym, the swings  — they need to know their kids’ online playground as well,”

Third thing is that which only you should know- enable the Parental Control Features on Your Child’s Game Systems and/or Mobile Devices. Devices have web browsers. Most devices kids use, such as iPad and PlayStation 4, have parental controls that you can set to restrict the content that your kids can access. Often check the device to see if the password you set is still working.

Go to the “Block Sites” section, under “System Preferences” and block domains and keywords you don’t want your kids to catch.  In the text box, enter the words or sites separated by commas. (For example: sex, porn) Click “Apply” to save the settings. You may like to add sites and words after you see what your child is doing.

Download parental control software like Norton Online Family, Windows Live Family Safety, AVG Family Safety, PGSurfer and K9 Web Protection 4.0.296, they are some free downloadable software choices. Choose one that allows you to control content as well as monitor usage. Follow the software’s instructions to block sites and set up the monitoring system.

Before doing all the above set rules and make clear what are the consequences of breaking them. Like if “you watch for more than an hour, you will have no cartoons tomorrow … ( if its too much for them to take then …) half an hour cartoon tomorrow.” 

These are tried and tested things for making house internet safe for children. Share your thoughts if any other hack worked for you.

 

image credit: bdoza.files

Parenting hacks from Game theory

Games that chuntitledildren play often ends up in fights on -how unfair the other was with her or he got more share than her or she would be the first to start the game …. List is endless but what seem trivial or ‘not so important to adults becomes the matter of utmost prestige and importance to kids. The small things we have to do as parents for kids like sharing, dividing and compromising—become challenge.

We did it as kids and we continue to do this as adults also its just that our games are upgraded. Your colleague getting more bonus than you!

I see my daughter crying over the red ball that she wanted to play first or she remaining upset for days over who got more chocolates by granny or little sis getting more share of cake. I want to tell her its not such a big deal. Its not so important.  I want to cram my learnings of all these years and present a formula and feed my child!. I want to tell her – life is like this, mostly unfair, know your purpose, shuffle the cards and play your game. The instant challenge to present that instant formula feed for understanding and awareness of a 5-7 years old is how they would process that knowledge. So you need anecdotes, Asop fables and examples from daily life to bring your point home.

I was listening to Simon Sinek addressing leaders and executives and I was thinking if I have to present my 6 years old daughter with an idea of ‘Game theory’ how would I do that. The idea of playing your game. I can not give her example of MicroSoft & Apple and how Microsoft keeps an eye on Apple and how Apple just play its game….the concept of Finite and Infinite players. Though its not a bad idea to let the generation of instant gratification and gadgets know the theories of social interaction.

Game theory is a study of mathematics that aims to analyse the strategies competitive situations where the outcome of a participant’s choice of action depends critically on the actions of other participants. For example, a game of poker or bridge; hence “game” theory.

In a less literal sense, game theory can be applied to economics, and psychology as “the theory of social interactions”

Well, well, well ! that will be too much too soon. So, as parents I have to play my own games and little tricks.

New York Times reported that “researchers found that children as young as 19 months seem to understand the concept of fairness, and appear surprised by scenes of blatant favoritism – such as when one puppet is given toys and another puppet goes without. By age 7, some children will choose to forgo candy rather than get a significantly larger share than others”.

Here, I come across this book The Game Theorist’s Guide to Parenting coauthored by the award-winning journalist and father of five Paul Raeburn and the game theorist Kevin Zollman. They  paired up to highlight tactics from the worlds of economics and business that can help parents break the endless cycle of quarrels and ineffective solutions. “Raeburn and Zollman show that some of the same strategies successfully applied to big business deals and politics—such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma and the Ultimatum Game—can be used to solve such titanic, age-old parenting problems as dividing up toys, keeping the peace on long car rides, and sticking to homework routines.”( Scientific American, 2016)

In the book the author states that parents can divide time, but how can they fairly divide the “first time?” Coin tosses and simple games like rock, paper, scissors are often suggested, but they come with their own set of risks, like older kids taking advantage of their younger siblings. Instead, game theorists propose auctions.

According to the authors, “If you have one item that can’t be divided, you want to assign it to the person who desires it most.”

By using an auction system, kids are expected to announce how much they’d be willing to “pay” for an item or experience — Raeburn and Zollman suggest that payment be in the form of chores.

Another bonus: game theory empowers children to take ownership of their decisions and begin to comprehend the consequences — to themselves and others.

When children are faced with the job of cleaning up a joint mess, suggest “you pick up one, then he picks up one,” said Raeburn. “We had mixed results with Tit for Tat,” he admits. His 9-year-old son was able to manipulate his 6-year-old brother into doing more. “This probably works better with children who are closer in age, or at least both over 7.”

Credible Punishments: In game theory as in parenting, you have to deliver on your threats, like actually turning off the TV if you said you were going to, even if it punishes you too. Joshua Gans, an economist at the University of Toronto and the author of “Parentonomics,” offers advice for gaining a credible reputation at home. When his children were young and would disobey, he would say, “I’m thinking of a punishment.” It’s much easier to pretend to think of a punishment than to come up with a new one every time, he notes—or, worse, to issue a noncredible threat in the heat of the moment. (“That’s it, I’m canceling Christmas!”) Once he earned his credibility, he found that he had only to close his eyes and count to 10, and his children would spring into action.( Wall Street Journal, 2014)

All in all, these tricks are not going to work all the time in the desired fashion. Empathy and perspective as parents will always be needed with a cuddle to just reason out with your little one… if you can !

What our kids are being showed in the name of entertainment — Watch out!

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I was vacationing in India this summer. The sultry and scorching days did not leave any choice for me and my daughter but to slump in the couch and watch some cartoons. I switched on the TV and after some careful shuffling through buttons, we settled on one of them. It was a commercial break that took forever to end. Guzzling down that advert was not without efforts , there was a beauty soap advert, where there was a fuddled husband running behind his wife to know the secret of her lasting fresh looks. I wondered what was there to achieve through this commercial that was running on a channel dedicated for children.

The commercial break ended after conducting a litmus paper test on my patience.

It’s good to see a good bunch of home-grown cartoon characters coming up. It’s equally sorry to see the contents famished of positive messages. There seems to be no concerns for what an average mother must be going through when she overhears her kids laughing and rolling over something like, “Bidu tera fatela hatela advice nahi mangta”.

There are some new crop of characters and episodes running on different channels. One common pattern that runs through the tapestry one after another is that all protagonists are good at kicking, punching and resorting to physical violence to teach lessons to the devil ones. One popular cartoon series is about three ghosts who keep track of sins committed on earth and they come down from their ‘bhoot-lok’ to torture and punish. There is also a timid and coy cop in the story. Law or rules are at mercy of these supernatural trio. If you are going to tell me that it’s a harmless subtle entertainment, hold on, this is exactly my issue. Our definition of entertainment is so grim and gross! From an early age we are allowing those impressionable minds to get conditioned to normalcy of laughing at somebody’s misery, pulped beaten faces, deformities and abnormalities.

How are we defining entertainment for school going children? What kind of apathy and aggression are we slowly injecting in them through the colourful hunky-dory characters?

The Indian cartoon factory is yet to spin out a character which can solve his problems with his good humour and positive attitude without having to beat the devil ones to pulp.

We should move towards more participatory and interactive format, where parents have more say in what kind of cartoons characters they want to be aired on TV. Definition of entertainment that is being formed and slowly gaining acceptance will have detrimental effects in the long run. There is another new series in which there are two he-cats who flirt around a neighbour she-cat. This she-cat has the tendency to tilt towards the stronger and better provider of her needs. It’s appalling!

As Indians we have the tendency to adjust to everything, make room for everything. Let this passivity not hamper the personality development of our kids. Their understanding of life should not be marred by the junk they take through TV every day. Let’s take the control button in our hands and let our voices be heard.

A conversation on friendship with my 5 year old daughter

bambi and thumper.png

It’s easier to talk to children above ten about complex things like relationships. (Maybe I am oversimplifying the problem). But when it comes to the audience whose understanding is limited to ‘sharing is the way of caring baba, baba black sheep’ it’s difficult to present something complex in a simple way.

Though Khalil Jibran has explicitly put everything that friendship is in these lines:

 Your friend is your needs answered.

He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

And he is your board and your fireside.

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind, you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”

 The problem was how to talk about this to my little 5 year old. There were many helpful parenting sites that talked about the clinical aspects of making friends or being one. I was looking for something more. I was looking to touch the root of the concept, to talk a bit of philosophy with my bitsy baby.

Let me tell you the background of what prompted me to take up this topic with her. After we shifted to a new country, I had a daunting task at hand. There was a park nearby our apartment. I and my daughter would stroll down there in the evenings. The task was to find a friend to play. A few initial visits were stressful for me, she played swings and slides with her roving eyes looking for a pal amidst her unanswered smiles and waves. My little one was disappointed but not disheartened.

One day she took her new bicycle to the park and there was a girl of her age who came to play with her. They both rode the bicycle by turns. I was also relieved that she finally had a companion. The next day she went without her bicycle. She looked for her friend everywhere. Finally, she saw her playing with a group of children. She waved to her and went near them expecting that she would be invited to play. But nothing like that happened. The bicycle friend turned out to be an opportunist.

That day my little brave heart was heartbroken. She came running towards me and she plonked her head in my lap and cried. We returned home.

She was yet to start her new school. Her mom, dad and a few stuffed bunnies and bears were her only acquaintances in the new land. I wanted to talk to her about what had happened in the park but I kept it to myself. Though she was back to her normal self but it was evident that she was hurt. It was the next day at bed time when I groped a chance to begin the conversation on Friendship and making friends.

I chose to read ‘The Stinky Little Kitten’  — Jim Peterson, a story about a friendly kitten who is refused help by all the farm animals when she jumps over onions and starts stinking. A piglet, whom she had always avoided, is the only animal which comes to her help to clean herself. When the stinky little kitten is washed and cleaned, she runs up to her mother, nonplussed as to why none of the animals whom she thought were her friends, helped her. To this, the smart mommy cat says:

“It’s not always that you choose your friends. Sometimes the friends choose you.”

 The end of the story brought a smile on my kitten’s face. I smiled back.

Me: “What do you think of the story?”

She :“I liked it.”

Me: “What did you like in it?”

She: “The stinky little kitten found her friend at last.”

Me: “Ummm okay but what made her think that the piglet was her friend?”

She: “Because he helped her.”

Me: “Yes dear helping is friendship, but it’s not just helping that makes good friends.

She: “Aunty (maid) helps you too.”

Me: (laughing) “I pay her. Helping is in return of something.”

She: “I know mama friends share things.”

Me: “Hmm okay you shared your bicycle with that park friend.”

She: (frowning) “Hmmm I was friend, she was not friend.”

Me: “Yeah okay tell me which cartoon friends you like the most.”

(Thinks for a moment)

She: “Yes I like Bambi and Thumper”

Me: “They are my favourite too. Why are they your favourite?”

She: “Umm Thumper and Bambi have lots of fun together.”

Me: “Yes they do, indeed.”

She: “Why do you like them?”

Me: “I like them because they are different yet they understand each other, try to improve each other. Remember how Thumper teaches Bambi to ski on ice.”

She: (giggling) “Yes I remember.”

Me: “So a friend is someone who has all these traits. Somebody who shares toys but doesn’t help is not a friend. Somebody who helps but does not understand you is not a friend.”

She: “You are my best friend.”

Me: “Yes, I am dear and will always remain your friend. When you will start your new school, when you will attend your music or craft classes, when you will grow up, you will find such a friend who will be polite, helpful, understanding and who will like the things you like, who will not come to you because you have a special toy or a new bicycle. That friend will befriend you for who you are.”

 A bright, bright smile spread across her face that brightened my heart too. I switched off the side lamp. While sleep was slowly pulling my eye lashes down this quotation by Gloria Naylor was running through my mind, “We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.