(APP) solutely Necessary? How Much is too Much?

This has been doing its rounds in my head too long. But today, I decided to do away with it as I cannot hold it inside me any longer. So here it is. Yes….It’s about APPs and the cyberworld again. And I know it’s been talked about too much. So I was also wondering whether this post of mine will  invoke interest at all or people will just shrug it off with a “Not again” expression. Anyway, one thing is for sure. I am not going to make any judgements but all I want is response from the readers and honest at that.

Wherever we have to wait even for 5 minutes, whether at a shop, at the bus-stop, station, airport, hospital—anywhere. The first thing we do is take out our phones from our bags/pockets and start using it. And then, it doesn’t matter how long you have to wait, for you lose yourself in cyberspace and don’t mind at all as long as you are not disturbed. In the same way, the moment you reach home, you reach out for your phone first, before checking on anything else. So, literally, its cyberspace that provides company and not the person standing next to you. No…I am not complaining. I understand that Internet and the strings attached to it are necessary for all. It makes life easy and comfortable; it makes jobs simpler. I don’t detest it at all. What irks me is the way people lose themselves in the ‘reel world’. The same people who understand what long term effects it can bring forth, to their health and relationships and yet continue as if everything were normal. If this is the case, then why do they panic the moment their child touches their phone or a tablet lying around? Immediately, they start over-reacting. After all, the cyberspace is filled with information for the children too. There are games and apps for children and I can vouch that they are educative and entertaining too. Most stay-at-home mothers will agree with me that it is virtually impossible to engage little children throughout the day. It is not just physically exhausting, but is mentally challenging as well. And no one can engage them in a way that these Apps can, with their music, beats and variety. No matter how much we try, we can never come closer to attracting our children for long hours, the way these Apps and games do. We also know that those companies that promise to engage kids with their ‘themed activities in a box’ also understand that all their activities require adult support and supervision and none of it can be dealt with by children alone. And if stay-at-home parents have the energy, then they don’t require any such activities. They can manage on their own. The truth is, they too need some time away from their kids. Some time to themselves when they can relax and freshen up. So, if some time in the day, is siphoned off for ‘kids in Cyberspace’, what’s wrong–as long as the days and time is fixed? That way, moms are happy and children are happier.

But then, I must also accept that this is a very dangerous path and one must tread with extreme caution. The cyberworld is capable of making anyone dance to its tunes.  I read an article yesterday in the ToI where Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, advises people against obsessing over their smartphones even when they are at home. The “residual effect”, he says, where the last email comes in the way of our private time spent with loved ones, should go. If a work-life balance can be maintained, then we’re good. If not, we need to work on that. So whether, it is with children, adults, older people, it is important to watch out that we don’t get so blown away with the virtual world that that we drift far off from our real world with its beautiful people and relationships. In a virtual world everything is possible, but we need to keep in mind that, once we come out it, we need to face reality and it may not be happy ending after all. J What do you think? On the one hand we have the Apps that are necessary and on the other, they suck us in? How do we enjoy the evil fruit without sinning? How much is actually too much? Waiting for answers…

(Already published in Life Beyond Numbers)

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