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Opinion / OP Rana

Tap, tap ... these gadgets are crazy!

By OP Rana (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-16 08:13

Once upon a time there was an 11-year-old boy in a city who was good at computers, but not in the way you might think. He could use parts of discarded computers to make useful things like a dynamo to light a bulb or conduct other experiments.

Sounds strange in this day and age, because children in general no longer use their imagination to get around a problem or to try their hand at something useful.

So what? These are modern times, rather postmodern times, and children can't be expected to fiddle with scraps when everything is so easily available.

Why should a child lose sleep over some silly scraps? But that is exactly what children are doing - losing sleep - albeit not over some silly part of discarded machinery but because they have access to complete ultramodern gadgets such as tablets and smartphones. Such "privileged" children on average get 21 fewer minutes of per night, says a new study.

Well, the loss of 21 minutes in dreamland for children is a small price to pay for the advantages information technology has brought into modern life, right? Wrong!

IT has robbed children of sleep and much more. Imagination, for example. Oral narration - of fairy tales, fables, scriptures and history - left much to the imagination of children. They created worlds of their liking to fit the stories. Their worlds, as the middle aged among us would know, were black and white; they had shades of gray too; and of course they were full of colors.

True, the advent of books restricted imagination, because unlike the spoken word, the ones in black and white could not be changed from one generation or one person to another. Still, the printed word left enough room for imagination.

That changed thanks to visuals. As it is, visuals were enough of a straitjacket. But accompanied by audios they have built a prison from where even the most mature of minds, let alone a budding one, cannot escape. Think television.

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