‘Media overdose responsible for personality disorders in kids’
Shukti Sarma 25 March 2011

Lack of activity and absence of companionship at home is leading to excessive media consumption through TV and mobiles which is having dangerous consequences, experts warn

Media immersion among children and young adults has become an issue serious enough to be treated as a new form of personality disorder, according to well known child psychologist Dr Kersi Chavda. Speaking at the FICCI Frames 2011, Dr Chavda said henceforward, psychology will have a special branch that deals with mental and personality disorders that result from excessive media consumption.

"The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, which is considered to be the Bible for psychologists, will now have a new chapter on media-related personality disorders," said Dr Chavda. The fifth edition, which is likely to be published in May 2013, will see the new addition.

The manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is considered to be the standard in classification of mental disorders, and is used worldwide by doctors and medical practitioners.

It has been proven in various studies that excessive media consumption leads to several disorders like obesity, attention-deficit disorder, aggressive behaviour and leads to a decline in social skills and academic performance. In India, where 95% of households have a television and mobile penetration has reached phenomenal heights, more and more children are reported to be showing symptoms of mental and personality disorders, said Dr Chavda.

"It is not just television. Internet, mobiles, games, movies, all contribute to it," he said. "Media content has become too violent and sexualized, and children and teenagers are more vulnerable to its ill-effects, which continue even during adulthood."

Media consumption among children in India is increasing. A Cartoon Network survey conducted by Nielsen India showed, in 2010, 18% of children had access to the internet, 79% of them used mobiles (mainly those of their parents) and on an average, viewed more than five hours of television every day. Their top interests seem to be gaming, searching for television and movie-related content and downloading music.

Nitish Mittersain, CEO of Nazara Technologies, a mobile gaming company, said, "We assumed that our audience is mainly the 16+ audience. But we were surprised to see that almost 25% of the traffic and downloads are either contributed by children aged 7 to 14, or their parents, at their request."

Rohit Sharma, CEO of Reliance Entertainment-Digital Business, too, said that children aged 4-14 years constitute 30% of their business. "The idea of 'edutainment' is nonsense. Children's media consumption is chiefly for entertainment, and they would migrate to those channels where the content is available," Mr Sharma said.

While admitting that media addiction is dangerous, he suggested that this was the result of several things, like the lack of outdoor activities and space, and absence of companionship at home. He said, "Most kids, as we see, view gaming and television as a form of stress busting. Due to excessive pressure from schools, they turn to media for entertainment."

Dr Chavda said, "Ratings should be enforced properly, as to what is appropriate and what is not. Parents, too, should be vigilant and responsible about what they allow their children to view. Discarding media is impossible, but monitoring content for kids is a must. Psychology sees excessive media exposure as a disturbing and increasing trend. Hopefully your child will not become a statistic in it."

bharti sharma
1 decade ago
very true mam but I feel there is still lot of hope that the scene may change for betterment.
nagesh kini
1 decade ago
This is a classic case of gross overloads - the main culprits the visual/electronic media, the mobile and internet culture.

With the coming of the palm held calculators - calci in their slang the kids have forgotten how to add, deduct, multiply and divide.

Now with internet and mobiles they can't write a straight good sentence.

Use of both has to strictly curbed by parents and teachers.

The gen-next will be full of brainwashed and indoctrinated morons not capable of thinking on their own.

Shukti has done a well researched report
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