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…

View original post 702 more words

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!

wallpaper-2659885_960_720

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.