Electronic gadgets keeping children away from the world of real books  

Thursday, 12 October 2023 | MANSI BHAMBRI | DEHRADUN

The declining habit of reading printed books among children can be attributed to the increased use of electronic gadgets such as smartphones, laptops and internet facilities. Experts, however, suggest that this trend is negatively impacting the overall development of children, particularly their imagination and capacity of self-exploration. To promote such a habit, parents should try to limit their child’s access to electronic gadgets, they said, in unison.

Talking to The Pioneer on this matter on Wednesday, the managing director of Book Tale, Hed Rathod said that thanks to the rampant use of the electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops and internet facilities by the children, interest among them in reading printed books is dwindling fast.   “I am unshakably convinced, given my experiences and observations of life, that the parents are to blame at least partly for the interest in the world of books petering out in the children. However, the parents should bear in mind that this waning trend of reading printed books among the children will ultimately hinder their  capacity for learning and comprehension,” he added.

When told that the children are now reading books online, he retorted, saying that reading printed books differs from reading on-screen.  “When children read printed books an emotional connection develops between them and the books, ushering them into the world of the real books whose charm never wanes.  I am urging the parents to stop their children from getting ensnared completely in the intellectually debilitating trap of digital engagement,” he said.   

Echoing the same view, a professor of DAV College Prashant Singh said that the fast declining habit among children of reading printed books and getting obsessed with their digitised counterparts is a trend that must be counteracted in the future interest of these children. “This trend is discernible particularly among college students. In today’s world, children often gravitate towards shortcuts in various aspects of their lives. Further, the round the clock availability of resources on the internet is contributing to this trend. Somehow, this trend must be restrained and the children must open themselves to the exhilarating experiences of self-exploration and world exploration through reading the books in print,” he said and added that the school authorities must see to it that the students visit the school libraries regularly, stressing that shortcuts do not pay off in life.

Asked to comment on this matter, the librarian at Doon University Ashish Kumar said that factors such as the internet availability and limited time can be identified as the principal causes for the decline in reading printed books. “As things stand now, children are finding it difficult to engage with stories. Not just that, they cannot find time to open and read printed books to delve deep into subjects they take interest in. This appals them but this is the only way of acquiring a comprehensive understanding of things,” he said.  

He suggested the schools and colleges organising programmes from time to time to foster a greater interest among students to read real books. “Encouraging and promoting reading habits-not just on –screen reading- is an imperative of the present time. Otherwise, the growth of imagination in them will be impeded to the detriment of all,” he opined.

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