Childhood stories change with generation but the innocence of those days remains the same, Pritha Banerjee reminiscences while we celebrate Children’s Day
No classes, fancy dress, treats from teachers, and Chacha Nehru… the thoughts that come to mind whenever someone talks about Children’s Day. If you are in school, this is the best day of the year. Over a period of time, the celebrations for this day have changed a lot. Not just that, being a 21st-century child is a big task. I am not just talking about the highly competitive environment created for them to excel in the classroom, on the sports field, and at extra-curricular activities. I am talking about gadgets called smartphones and space called the internet.
The day through ages
Children’s Day is celebrated in India on November 14, which is also the birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. Universal Children’s Day is celebrated on November 20, as it marks the anniversary when UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1989) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990). Thus, Children’s Day is basically a celebration to increase awareness of the rights, care, and education of children, worldwide.
As the saying goes, ‘there is a child in each one of us’ even this day holds a special place in everyone’s heart. For a 30-year-old, Rahul Lahkar, “Children’s Day is all about fun. It used to be one of those days when you didn’t have to study. The teachers used to get cup-cakes and stationeries to gift us.” On the other hand, 65-year-old, Puspa Banerjee remembers, “On Children’s Day, we got red roses and were told that it was Chacha Nehru’s favorite flower.” Talha Siddiqui, a 23-year-old writer, says, “I won a lot of prizes on this day. Our school used to conduct many competitions on this day.”
The popularity of this day only started in the 1980s and the way it is celebrated has changed over a period of time. Aparupa Banerjee, a pre-school teacher, feels, “The students need to know about the historical significance of this day. Apart from fancy dress and treats for the children, we are also conducting a session to teach them about Jawaharlal Nehru.”
A 21st-century child
There is no doubt that the change in technology has made our life easier, but at the same time has dramatically transformed how we live our day-to-day lives. The children are most affected as they are introduced in a world where technological advancements are the norm. Nikki Shroff, a blogger, says, “If you look at our parents’ generation, technology was limited to color TV and record players. We really had the advantage as we came up in an era just before technology exploded and created this whole new medium including social media so there was no pressure. It was the absolute perfect time to be a kid.”
Most of the parents don’t have the time to spend with their demanding child and enter smartphone to rescue. “With every piece of technology that you assign your child — each one is a new source of notifications and distraction — the more distracted he/she becomes,” says Veena Sharma, a child psychiatrist.
Looking at the bright side; we have opened doors to various innovative careers. Gone are those days when children wanted to become a doctor or teachers, today’s children want to explore more in the profession. Through a survey conducted by a travel firm, First Choice 1000 kids were asked what they wanted to become, around 35 percent of them said Youtubers. Most of them wanted to be in creative and innovative career paths like blogging, music, acting, photography etc.
It’s all fast-forward
Life changed as we moved from books to kindle, newspaper to iPad and Sony Walkman to iPod. While one generation begged to go outdoors to have a good time, this generation will barely look up from the screen unless the place was on fire. The thing is that video game violence gives kids ideas about how to handle specific situations instead of using their words.
They prefer living in the virtual world more than in the real world. Unlike old times, popularity these days is easily measured in followers, likes, and retweets. “The popularity contests revolve around how many ‘likes’ you get. A low number of ‘likes’ typically translates into low social status, and possible shaming and bullying. A high number of ‘likes’ translates to the popularity and the pressure to sustain your status,” claims Veena.
Everything around us is moving so fast that trends last about a minute-and-a-half and it’s over. That is exactly the amount of time it takes to create a new web page or download a song. Thus, makes it easier for this generation to move on, Nikki Shroff says, “For instance take any boy bands, they just literally come and go at the snap of a finger and no one seems to care as much. However, I remember when my favorite ‘New Kids on the Block’ broke up, I was around seven or eight years old and it was as if I had lost a member of my family.”
The speed at which things are changing these days is described perfectly by a Hollywood movie character Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around, you might miss something.” So it’s time to take off and embrace the child hiding in you for a day.
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