A village initiative to reduce addiction to television and mobile phones
A village has declared ‘freedom’ to get free from the hands of mobile phone and television, the two mediums of digital addiction of the modern era. A village siren is sounded every evening at seven o’clock. Immediately, the television and mobile phones in everyone’s room were switched off. Siren sounded again at 8:30 p.m. This means, now the television and mobile phone can be turned on.
The name of the village is Bhadgaon. It is located in the Sangli district of the Indian state of Maharashtra. About three thousand people live in the village. Most are farmers and sugar factory workers.
Village council president Vijay Mohit told BBC Hindi, ‘Last August 14, the day before India’s Independence Day, we held a meeting in the village and decided that we have to stop this addiction. From the next day, sirens were sounded and all televisions and mobile phones were switched off.
Vijay Mohit said that due to the corona epidemic, children have become dependent on online classes on television and mobile phones. Students go back to schools and colleges when educational institutions reopen this year. But after returning from there, the children sit with their mobile phones and read or watch TV. Many adults are also busy with these devices without talking to each other.
A woman named Vandana said that it became difficult for her to handle two children. Because, they were busy playing games on mobile phones or watching television. Vandana claims that she has benefited a lot after the introduction of this new system. She said, now her husband can return from work and teach the children. And he can also cook well.
But it was not very easy for the village council to get everyone to agree on this decision. Vijay Mohit said, when the proposal was initially discussed, many people felt it was a suffocating situation. Then the village council gathered the women of the village. Even though they watch a lot of serials, they agree in favor of this proposal. Then another meeting was held in the village. There it was decided that a siren would be placed on the village temple.
It was not easy to implement this decision. Initially, when the sirens sounded, the council members and a few small groups in the village went door-to-door urging people to switch off televisions and mobile phones.
But if you keep the television and mobile phone off for such a short time, will there be any benefits? In response to this, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience Professor of Clinical Psychology. Manoj Kumar Sharma said that during the Corona period, the amount of time spent online among people has increased a lot. Dr. Sharma and his colleagues surveyed 682 people (495 women and 187 men) from July to December 2020. There has been an increase in use among teenagers, young adults, and adults—the type of Internet use that can become problematic—one of the most pressing challenges posed by the rise of Internet use.
Studies have found that excessive use of the Internet at work increases the risk of developing problems, which can lead to stress. There is a risk of a lot of damage to adolescence. Adolescents may use the Internet as a temporary escape from psychological stress. This can lead to their gradual isolation from personal social interactions, family interactions, and constructive extracurricular activities.
Dr. Sharma feels that the ‘digital fast’ of families is an awareness to involve themselves in quality activities. This is a basis for reducing dependence on online activities. He said, as a parent, there is a need to talk with children. They should ensure physical or offline leisure activities as well as adequate sleep and food intake.
Dilip Mohit of Bhadgaon village, a laborer, said he has three school-going sons. He can see the change as a result of this decision. Children were not as focused on studies as they are now. Now everyone has a normal conversation at home.