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Weaning children away from digital addiction+ #45

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The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free. -Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and working together. We are also a founder-member of the Gifted India Network– if you are interested in issues related to gifted education and talent development, an easy way to keep updated about talks, programs and resources is to join the Gifted India Network telegram channel (https://t.me/GiftedIndia). Do not miss the Gifted India Network sessions coming up tomorrow (Saturday, Feb 12) and on Friday, Feb 18. (details available in the Upcoming Events section)

In this week’s main post ‘Weaning children away from digital addiction’, Dr. Devasena Desai of Kaveri Gifted Education and Research Centre (KGERC), writes about how parents can wean their children away from addiction to devices and screen time, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

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Weaning children away from digital addiction


Upcoming Events

Weaning children away from digital addiction

This article originally appeared in Vivid, the Kaveri Gifted Education and Research Centre (KGERC) newsletter and was titled “Weaning children from digital learning towards other engaging activities”. Though the focus of the article is on digital addiction among gifted children, the suggestions offered are applicable to all children.

Welcome to the world of reality! We have been hijacked into the web of virtual learning and closed spaces. Children have been worst affected; to keep children engaged, parents had to resort to ipads, mobiles, TVs and video chats. Having a child with high ability means they require additional reading, and extracurricular activities as they can get disinterested easily compared to other children.

Parents may often give up and give permission for longer ipad, TV or computer time just so that gifted children don’t bother them. With schools opening up slowly now, the habit of accessing electronic gadgets still remains. With almost 20 months of lockdown in phases, the addiction to the screen remains and it is difficult to wean this off that easily. Gifted children may dislike physical and social activities and these gadgets have also replaced whatever little social activities they were engaged in prior to the pandemic. Parents may be concerned that children may show signs of addiction where they are unable to do without the virtual world and its lure to engage them in meaningful and not-meaningful viewing.

Weaning, learning and cleaning this habit is going to be a challenging job. The natural argument would be STOP using gadgets. Instead if we can bring in new alternative activities, this will help the gifted child. Secondly we need to UNDO the old habit and create a new one, just an instruction or multiple reminders will not be helpful; instead we need to be the role model for the gifted child. Here are some suggestions-


Keep an electronics-free hour at home, where every member refrains from using their gadgets and steps out for a walk/stroll in the neighbourhood, park, terrace or parking lot. Or even a car ride where conversations take place about their thoughts, feelings and actions of the day.


Switch off or keep silent the mobile phone and play a board game, sing karaoke, dance or do some craft work. Something that includes hand and eye coordination- like knitting patterns, sticking wall paper, painting bathroom tiles with a new border design.


Make a list of indoor / outdoor activities that don’t require a gadget. e.g. If you want some design and/or idea from the computer – select, take prints, then sit.


Have a list of alternatives and rotate these every hour.

a. Indoor – painting, drawing, dancing, music instrument practice, craft, etc.

b. Outdoor – cycling at parking lot / neighbourhood, play date, hunt location for a story plot, give themes (imaginative locations), beach, mountains, bylanes etc.

You can also give live problem situations (list social or household problems) and get children in groups to ideate how to overcome these. Some possible ideas are-


Food distribution during Covid-19.


Water logged junctions (in the rainy season).


Create a garden patch on the terrace.


Start a business for children of your age.


Introducing a new language using an audio app (Indian or foreign language).


Create a dance routine choreography, to show your cousins, grandparents.

c.   Make a list of relatives and friends who have unique specializations, like economists, data scientists, entrepreneurs, who can give guest lectures for the kids.

d.  Watch movies together so that the screen time is a family event rather than an individual pasttime. Have an event where the kids sit together with their friends or neighbours. Introducing them to how to send invites for the movie date, what kind of snacks to keep, sitting arrangements etc. will develop their organisational skills and the event itself will help their social skills.

Parenting is a challenge but what the gifted need is to be challenged in meaningful ways. Parents need to show tough love and ensure that they seek deliberate ways that will make them move away from their device addiction. Children always find ways to manipulate the situation so that they can continue watching videos, play games, and use the internet for personal viewing. Parents can sit and have a chat about their weaning process and ensure that the gifted child is steering towards the alternative along with the family so that it’s a cooperative process rather than a punishment.

Dr. Devasena Desai, Consultant Psychologist, KGERC, Pune. gifted.inquiry@kaveri.edu.in

Article first appeared in Vividha, 4 (2) e-newsletter published by KGERC, Dec 2021.

Upcoming Events

All events listed below are free unless indicated otherwise. However, registration may be required for the free events too.


Summer Programs from GenWise (Residential)- May 8- May 29 (Paid)

India’s premier talent search platform, Ei ASSET Talent Search (ATS) and GenWise are strategic partners. ATS identifies gifted students and GenWise delivers programs to nurture gifts. Watch Ei ATS Gold/ Silver/ Bronze scholars sharing their experience at GenWise programs here- 

Registrations are now open for 3 residential programs in May 2022, all running concurrently at the same campus- For Ei ATS Gold/ Silver/ Bronze scholars         -GenWise 2022 (entering Gr 8,9,10)         -GenWise Jr. 2022 (entering Gr 6,7) Open to all interested students          -Genesis 2022 (entering Gr 8,9,10) Please check this post- https://bit.ly/GenWise2022Substack and this presentation for more details- https://bit.ly/GenWise2022programsPPT The academic enrichment component of the program provides diverse opportunities to students to identify and pursue their interests- Artificial Intelligence, Mathematical Thinking, Leadership, Forensic Investigations, Urban Sustainability, Creative Writing and Engineering Design are just some of the options available. All the programs above are however much more than their academic enrichment component and the goal of the program is to help with the development of the whole child-read more about the benefits of GenWise programs at https://bit.ly/WhyGenWisePrograms Safety and comfort of students is ensured by a high quality team of Residential Counselors, trained and managed by the experienced Site Director and Residential Head. The adult:student ratio is 1:5 or greater. Call Vishnu @9342247734 or Rajesh@9840970514 or write to gifted@genwise.in.


Identifying and Nurturing Giftedness in the Early Years– this panel discussion on Sat, Feb 12 at 6 PM is part of a series of events from the Gifted India Network of which we are a founding member. You can view more details about the session and register for the same here.

This discussion would be most relevant to parents and teachers whose wards (in the age range 4-10) may be displaying unusual ability, though others will also find it useful. Our 3 expert panelists will share common issues, tips for parents, options available for enrichment, and address participant questions.

The panelists are-


Dr. Bhooshan Shukla, eminent child psychiatrist and parenting coach who has worked with several gifted children in his clinical practice. https://www.genwise.in/our-instructors/Bhooshan-Shukla


Dr. Devasena Desai, from the Kaveri Gifted Education Centre (KGERC). She has designed the teacher training programs at KGERC based on the work of Belin Blank Center, Iowa, USA, and also offers individual guidance to parents of gifted children. https://kaveri.edu.in/kgec/


Dr. Rhoda Rosen is Associate Director at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development (CTD). She oversees CTD’s enrichment programs for young students, including summer, weekend, and online courses. Additionally, she leads parent education initiatives and is actively involved in professional learning and school outreach. 


Giftedness- Parent Perspectives– this panel discussion on Fri, Feb 18 at 6 PM is part of a series of events from the Gifted India Network of which we are a founding member. You can view more details about the session and register for the same here.

Being the parent of a gifted child can be both joyous and difficult. Keeping the child sufficiently challenged and engaged is a common issue. Sometimes fitting in socially and finding the right peer group can be a challenge. Often, parents do not even know whom to approach for guidance as gifted students are few and far apart, and schools are often not equipped to address the needs of such students.

In this panel discussion, 3 parents of middle/ high school children and one young adult will share their experiences and tips that will be useful to other parents and educators. The parents will talk about how they identified giftedness, whom they approached for help, mentors and out-of-school experiences they found useful, and other challenges they faced. Participants (both parents and educators) are also encouraged to share their experiences during this session. 

The session will be moderated by Vishnu Agnihotri, co-founder of GenWise, who has been working with gifted students since 2015. 


Present Data-based Insights as Comics, facilitated by Gramener, a leader is data-based storytelling

Most often, insights from data analysis get buried deep in traditional communication formats, never to see the light of day. Data comics, inspired by the visual language of comics, serve the important insights and information on a platter. They are simple, “catchy” and can evoke emotions, which makes them a powerful medium to engage audiences. We are all familiar with them, yet we’ve rarely used them for data storytelling. Join this workshop for students aged 13- 17 years, on Sat, Feb 26 from 6 PM to 7 PM, to know more about communicating data effectively through comics. This is a hands-on session where students will be given an exercise and will start working on it during the session and present it. Students will take the exercise home and submit it on Comicgen Friday, a regular event that students can continue to participate in on an ongoing basis.

Check out Gramener’s works on Data Comics, to know more. Seats are limited- register here to receive the link for the session.

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