Children forced into the rat race at an early age by parents are prone to a range of health problems
Class VII student Barnali Majumder dreams of "escaping the clutches of studies" whenever her mother pressurises her to work harder.Barnali, however, does not consider playing with friends as a way of relaxation. "I prefer cycling and swimming. I don't have time to go out and play with my friends," she says.
Her mother, Jharna, a primary school teacher, says, "Gone are the days of games and sports, children don't have any time, so exercise is the best way to stay healthy."
Jharna is of the opinion that exercise solves most ailments and is worried that a lack of exercise may be responsible for Barnali's eyesight problems.
It is a situation that Dr Supriyo Chatterjee, a senior consultant in general and paediatric optometry, is familiar with. "Two common causes of myopia include lack of outdoor activities resulting in increased television watching or playing computer games and parental pressure which results in long study hours without any breaks," he says.
Parents with no time to look after their children further deteriorate the situation. "Many mothers often switch on the TV to keep their kids busy. Such a practice often leads children to become TV addicts and the eyes suffer fromcontinued viewing," says the doctor.
Parents, however, blame the intense competition in schools. "Our children have no time to play. My son studies in Class V and is so busy with school, tuition and creative writing classes that he has no time to play. We can't do much nowadays because the curriculum is so competitive," says Mandira, a housewife.
Her son blames peer pressure for his schedule. "My classmates and I always talk about getting good marks in exams. I want to do better than them when I sit for an exam and feel the need to keep on studying. I am too tired to exercise as all my energy is spent rushing from one tuition to another."
Experts believe that the way parents treat children plays a major role in this issue. "Children nowadays are mini adults, they aren't kids anymore. When would they have the time to play around as they are thrown into the rat race so early in life? Parents nowadays do not have adequate time to invest in their kids and hence want the kids to behave like miniature adults. They do not want the kids to play around as that would require more supervision," says clinical and rehabilitation psychologist Paromita Mitra Bhaumik.
Another culprit leading to poor health in kids is fast food. Here, parents don't have the time to make a wholesome meal and kids gorge on unhealthy food. "However unlike the US and the UK, where kids feasting on fast food have numerous parks to play around, kids here do not have that option. The numbers of playgrounds is decreasing with each passing day. All these combined together leads to deteriorating physical health among children," she adds.
(Inputs by Tania Ghosh)