Guwahati: The fear of Covid-19 infection coupled with a countrywide closure of most institutions for kids, has bound children at home with little outdoor play or activity. Of the biggest dilemmas that parents have faced in the last few months, one of the major is that of screen time for their kids. The digital age has made screens more accessible and portable than ever. Although the full implications of screen time exposure on young kids whose brains are still developing is not yet known, there is concern that screen use can affect cognitive and language development.
“Excessive screen time leads to muscle weakness and dryness in the eyes. When a person spends more than three to four hours looking at the screen continuously, it lowers the blink rate across all age groups. This reduced blink rate leads to computer vision syndrome. Screen-viewing has possibly increased 80 to 90% in the lockdown. Children are turning to television, tablets and video games more than they typically would,” says Dr Kamlesh Joshi of Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital, Delhi.
But here is some good news. Guwahati-based women entrepreneur duo Neelam Sethia and Neha Bajaj have launched a newspaper specifically for kids, to inculcate reading habits in them.
“When we saw our kids spending too much time on screen either through online classes or other means, we felt they have lost interest in physical reading, which is a major concern. We looked up on the internet for kids-specific newspapers in our region, and we realised there’s none! This is how the whole idea came up to launch our own weekly newspaper. Reading allows a child to understand and comprehend their thoughts in a much more productive way thus helping them to build key language, literacy and social skills,” says Bajaj.
Sethia adds, “Holistic learning is very important for a child, so this weekly newspaper will help them consume content that will nurture their reading habits and other skills away from screen time.”
‘The Young Minds’, that caters to kids from 4 to 14 years of age, includes content that will help children engage in games, puzzles, riddles, fun facts, news, vocabulary, science and maths experiments, storytelling , and enhancing grammar skills. They will also provide a platform for participating in monthly contests and contributing arts and write-ups.
When asked more about the team involved in this project, “The content, designing, and all aspects of marketing is managed by The Virtual String, a digital marketing company run by Anjali Sethia and Kritika Sethia. Their services have been a stepping stone in launching, building the brand with the targeted market,” notes Bajaj.
The duo had started an activity based pre-school The Kinder Castle, in 2017. And now, with ‘The Young Minds’ they are hoping to deliver quality content and build an engaging reading culture amongst kids.
The first copy of ‘The Young Minds’ is scheduled to release in November; however the subscription process has already begun. To subscribe or receive a free physical sample of the newspaper, one may visit their official website theyoungminds.co.in.