After a resounding success of its GadgetFreeHour Campaign for Change in 2020, ParentCircle on Monday said this year over 50 million participants are expected to disconnect from their electronic gadgets for one-hour on November 20 – World’s Children Day – to spend the time exclusively with their children.
Started in 2011 as a parenting magazine, ParentCircle has emerged as a strong print and digital force in India. Apart from its magazines that have a pan-India readership, its digital platform www.parentcircle.com clocks a viewership rate of 12 million per year.
From the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, people of all ages have spent significantly more time living through their screens. More screen time is not a choice anymore, but a necessity for families.
The family-connect initiative was a huge success last year, with more than million parents and over 41,635 schools participating in the event. The campaign was started in 2019.
“This time, too, the movement is gaining momentum with #GadgetFreeHour garnering over 10 million impressions on social media already. And this is just the beginning. This year, #GadgetFreeHour is happening on November 20, 2021, with the number of participants set to exceed 50 million,” said ParentCircle while announcing the third edition of the #GadgetFreeHour.
ParentCirclehas invited everyone to celebratethe priceless parent-child bond by participating in the #GadgetFreeHour drive on November 20 (World Children’s Day), 2021, between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm.
“In this one hour, families will disconnect from their gadgets and spend time with their children – playing, talking, eating and laughing together; rediscovering the pleasure of each other’s company in a fun way,” said NalinaRamalakshmi, Founder and Managing Director, ParentCircle.
The Tamil Nadu Government Education Department is extending its support for the#GadgetFreeHour initiative by sharing a message to all the schools urging teachers and parents, along with their children, to take a break from their hectic online schedules to spend that one hour with their families.
The Puducherry Government has also joined hands in this initiative and is keen on spreading the go-gadget-free message across all schools in the Union Territory.
“Private schools and educational institutions, corporates, NGOs, cinestars, sportspersons, and scores of parents have also pledged to go gadget-free for that one hour on November 20, 2021.
“Everyone unanimously agrees that though we were all home together during the pandemic, we were in many ways disconnected from our family members – particularly our children – due to our extreme dependence on technology,” said ParentCircle.
Talking about why #GadgetFreeHour, Ramalakshmi further said all parents are busy either working or taking care of the needs of families.
“We at ParentCircle launched #GadgetFreeHour to encourage families to spendplayful, fun moments together and experience the joy of connection. We hope every family will join this campaign and spend one hour on November 20th with their children and loved ones without the distraction of gadgets. We hope this experience will enthuse them to make gadget-free family time a regular part of their daily lives,” said Ramalakshmi.
PR Venketrama Raja, Chairman, RamcoGroup said that in this age of heavy information load and instant communication, we tend to be reactive.
“We need to quiet our minds and pause to think. The Gadget Free Hour is a reminder to us all to pause and spend time with our children,” he said.
NRK Ramkumar Raja, Managing Director, Rama Raju Surgical Cotton Mills Ltd. has also pledged to be a part of #GadgetFreeHour.
“The vast majority of us are enamored with the digital age. However, we all live and interact in the physical world where we need to survive by manipulating our analog senses. Gadget Free Hour gives us a reason, even if it is brief, to connect back to the basics and experience the joys of non-digital interaction with family. I hope the Gadget Free Hour becomes a daily habit where we truly connect with one another,” he said.
AV Dharmakrishnan, CEO, Ramco Cements, said gadgets that are meant for unitingor connecting people are actually resulting in dividing people and also causing a lot of psychological problems among people of all ages.
“To bridge this gap, ParentCircle, as a social cause, has started the initiative of #GadgetFreeHour so that people can spend quality time with family and friends. Everybody should support this initiative by connecting with each other anddisconnecting all the gadgets for at least some time every day,” Dharmakrishnan said.
To make the fun hour for everyone, ParentCircle has launched the #GadgetFreeHour online #HahaHehe Challenge for families, which is seeing massive participation with over seven lakh reach.
“We also have the 14-Day ‘Back to Childhood’ challenge – a unique challenge that encourages parents to spend 5 gadget-free minutes every day with their children. Parents can support this campaign by taking the pledge at www.gadgetfreehour.com, and spread the joy of connection,” it said.
The #GadgetFreeHour initiative has garnered a lot of celebrity support, with actors, musicians, doctors, authors, corporate leaders, experts in the field of child education all coming forward to talk about how gadget-free time can enhance the parent-child bond.
Here’s what they are saying:
The ongoing pandemic has had us turn to technology like never before and boundaries between the use of gadgets for recreation, education, distraction, and communication have blurred significantly. Honoring a Gadget Free Hour by every person and every family, on a regular basis, becomes crucial for us to engage with life more completely and not through the filters of technology.
̶ Dr. NithyaPoornima, Clinical Psychologist, Former Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS, Bangalore
It’s going to go beyond that one hour, it’s going to make people realize and pay attention to the fact that we have moved away from the connection in our world and we’ve moved towards being consumed by gadgets. Gadget Free Hour is going to make people rethink how much connection they are making time for, with their families and loved ones and how much they are allowing themselves to get lost in the use of their devices.
̶ KeiraMerkovsky, Clinical social work/therapist, California
I try to limit my children’s exposure to screens as much as possible. In the evenings, I take them for a drive, get some air and see what the world is looking like rather than being in those four walls stuck to gadgets.
̶DabbooRatnani, Fashion and Bollywood photographer, Mumbai
Gadgets like mobile phones are a distraction and it’s difficult to keep it aside, that’s why it’s addictive. But somehow, we should find a way to switch it off sometimes. But one thing, you can’t expect your child to have discipline while you don’t have one, double standards don’t work.
̶ T M Krishna, Indian Carnatic vocalist, writer, activist, Chennai