If You Are A Kid, Trivandrum Is No Place For You!
On Jan 23, 2015
|Of late the National Games, new sports facilities and all that have captivated our people and our media. Hopefully, sports professionals and enthusiasts of the city would benefit from this. But what about kids below ten years? Are there friendly parks or play areas for our little citizens?
The census of 2011 revealed that, 8.19% (61,619) of the city population are children under the age of six. In 2015 it’s safe to assume that the number of kids under the age of 10 is somewhere around the one lakh mark. That’s a huge number! How many proper parks or play areas do the cutie pies of this city have?
Just one; a place inside the museum compound are overflowing with kids in the evenings and weekends. Why not more spaces for these kids?
Those who live in large apartments are a little fortunate since there is, usually, a small play area in the compound. But what about the less-fortunate children? Should they be denied their basic right to play safely?
Parks that we have here are congested places. An ideal play area should be large, green, friendly and tucked away from the bustle. There should be enough space for kids to run around freely and breathe in a whiff of fresh air. We did have one such place. The Akkulam children’s park used to be a popular haunt for families. It’s far away from the city and was big enough. As most good things are, this was shut down in 2012 for renovation and is yet to be opened! Another one was the Kowdiar Park where now stands the Vivekanda statue.
Ramya, a school teacher, is pretty frustrated about the fact that she has no place to take her two toddlers who love to run around always. “There is no place for tots in the city. Apart from the Museum park which is congested and crowded, I don’t have a place to take my kids. They love to go to the ‘fried-chicken outlet’ at Kesavadasapuram because there is a play area. We go there at times so that the little ones can have a good time,” she says. There are many like Ramya who wish for better and safer play areas for their kids.
There is more to it. If there is no place for the kids to play, then parents will be forced to keep their kids home. Well, kids are kids. They will have to find some way to keep themselves engaged. The easiest solution is TV or computer or nowadays, smart phones. Kids are getting increasingly addicted to phones and tablet-based games like Candy Crush or Temple Run. Long hours of staying indoors staring at lit-screens are not particularly good for the future of these tots.
Susan Mathew who runs the Friends Kindergarten opines that many parents do not want to see their kids get dirty and are not willing to let them play. Susan added, “Parents ask us not to let the kids play outside. They are scared the kids would fall and injure themselves. Very few ask us to let their kids play. If you don’t let them play outside, then they will grow shy towards outdoor activities and have wrong notions that playing outside is meant for folks from villages.”
Speaking about smart phone addiction, she says that it is sad that many parents are allowing their kids to use such gadgets. On the brighter side there are parents who keep phones and tabs away from their children and only use them, at night, after the kids fall asleep, says Susan.
“We really need more parks. Problems like TV addiction and attention deficiency can be avoided if the parents take their kids outside and let them play,” says George, who owns and runs Wonder Years Play School. He is also of the opinion that parents are over-concerned nowadays and that they are scared of even small cuts and bruises.
George is no one to mince words. He adds, “The kids should fall. That is the only way they are going to learn life. It is the part and parcel of an individual’s development. I had fractures at least 2-3 times and I have learned a lot from those incidents. As for the digital media addiction, it is a case of a lifestyle change. Only way out is to encourage outdoor activities so that they interact with each other and improve physically and mentally.”
According to the studies conducted by scientists across the world, the long hours in front of a lit screen can have serious impacts like body pain and social / behavioural issues. This along with a serious lack of outdoor play can result in child obesity. A lack of exposure to natural light may also cause short sightedness.
In a study published (August 2014) by the University of California Los Angeles, scientists have found that children’s social skills may be going downhill as they have less time for face-to-face interactions due to increasing usage of digital media. It may result in decreased sensitivity to emotional signs, that is, losing the ability to understand others’ emotions.
These days, when right from one’s tender years (2 or above) children get trapped into the world of smart phones and tablets, these results sound a grave alarm indeed! With just one congested park and around 100,000 kids, Trivandrum offers no space for the little ones. The kids need to go out and play. Parents need to push them out. Before that, the government needs to open up more parks and play areas. Would they?