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  • Writer's pictureVinayak Jawalkar

What I wish everyone knew about Dopamine?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

When was the last time your kid played like this?

I was on a short vacation with my family last year. Travelling gives us new experiences. I connect with nature and observe people around me. It triggers my introspection. 

We were travelling on a train and there was another family In our compartment. They were a small family – father, mother and their little girl, around 8 years. Children at this age ought to be active and explore stuff. This girl was quiet and it caught my attention. Her parents were talking to each other. She did not disturb her parents. After a while, I found the reason for her silence. Her hands were busy holding a tablet and she engrossed herself in her world. It was games she found her joy in. The little girl was in a virtual game marathon. The only time when she took a break was when she wanted to munch a snack. 

The girl seemed exhausted playing for hours with her gadget buddy. Feeling little bored, the girl signalled her mother for something. It was nothing other than her mother’s smartphone, another gadget. The mother gave her phone to her daughter with no hesitation. The same gaming continued on a different device. This happened throughout their journey. 

The parents let her child spend time with a gadget. Why? Because they didn’t want their daughter to bother them. The child, being an important member of the family, had no other choice. She found a non-human as her companion. The little girl wasn’t unhappy either. It seemed as though gadgets ruled in her life from childhood. 

You could ask, “What was wrong?”

My response, “Was anything right?

My motive was not to react to the situation and help the child. I wasn’t shocked. I felt sorry for the poor child. It was evident the girl grew up in an environment surrounded by technology. The girl did not enjoy her travel. She missed the fun and love of her parents during the journey. She was not an exception. Many kids of her age or even younger do not find humans interactive. Gadgets offer more fun and human beings look boring. Smartphone rules their life.

I pity the parents who are ignorant of their child’s mental health. 

For instance, this little girl forgot the real outside world. She neither enjoyed the travel nor her parents’ company. The outside scenery didn’t impress her eyes. Her one-way interaction with the tablet was her world.

Questions popped into my mind. Can a mobile game please kids better than a real game? “Yes”.

Dopamine does this bitter job.

Dopamine secretes in our mind when we face real-life crises. Like a sport or physical activity requiring human’s boosted mental effort. Do you know a smartphone game can give you same effect? If you are not aware of it, don’t worry. Many assume it to be a skill kids learn at a young age. The bad news is smartphone causes addiction. Like smoking.

You could still ask, what’s the harm?

Let’s face it. Dopamine secretes when the necessity arises. It gives you an extra energy. It pushes you into hyper-active mode enabling you to perform certain extreme tasks. Such an energy isn’t always used by us. You don’t need a super-energy when you eat or sleep, do you? But you keep it in your pocket. Addiction at your fingertips. The more you play a virtual game, the more secretion of dopamine happens. 

The impact? You become hyperactive even after you keep aside your smart device. You get a high energy level but you can’t use it. So start to hop around different activities to satisfy boosted energy. You wouldn’t find an alternative. You end up grabbing your phone, again. And there you are, stuck in a virtual world. You become helpless. You dislike social interaction. Real games do not interest you anymore. Conversation with your parents and friends gets boring. Your mind keeps searching for something to fulfil your high energy. 

And we do this to our kids? 

Do parents know this fact? May not be!

Parents offer smartphones to their kids as a gesture of love. Parents don’t gift their children gadgets. They show them a path of destruction. 

Is your kid restless, arrogant or lonely? Your kid spends excessive time with gadgets.

Children under three years of age develop their core behaviour. They have no idea what their virtual games mean. They are ignorant and watch Barbie videos on YouTube. But they grasp all those actions — you don’t want them to learn — by watching them. They learn but do not understand it. Children absorb such habits and it built further as they become teens.

Parents, fail to teach their children, the real networking of family and friends. As parents, you pour your love into your child. This is unavoidable. But you can alter the way you show your love. Don’t show them a destructive path. Instead, spend time with them, kicking off the gadgets. As you spend more time with your little ones, your kids get their best gift, your time.

Things you can consider doing right now:

  1. Limit the technology access to our kids. If your kid is a teen, schedule a time for social networking. 

  2. Give your children alternatives to smartphone games.

  3. Let your kid play in the outdoors.

  4. Spend time with your little ones. (Keep away your smartphones, too!)

  5. Weekend plan? Take your children to a beach or part. Do not sit on the couch and watch television.

  6. Is it your kid’s birthday? Gift them a book or a real toy. Not a smartwatch or a Sony PlayStation!

Parents must provide a learning environment for their children, enabling their natural growth. Children deserve a home with human love and interaction. Remember – your kids never knew about gadgets before you introduced it to them.

It is a high-alert for all parents. You must become cautious about your kids’ well-being. We cannot replace the human touch. It is the failure of this realisation which is letting gadgets live with us and our kids. We must decide now and stop further damage to our future generation. The dopamine addiction is going out of control. The ill-effects of gadgets on humans are bad, especially our children!

Children’s health does not show a positive sign. Assuming this trend continues, your kids will dislike humans. You can never stop the growing technology. But parents can replace a kid’s smartphone with a real toy.

If you don’t act now, your kids will love gadgets and not you.

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