“What is the influence of modern technological progress on children?” In the belief that criticisms also should be welcomed without prejudice in answering the above question as a fair response we shall begin our act. So let’s ask the question and seek answers from it before we examine it. This is being attempted to bring the background of the issue to the table and generate multiple perspectives that coexist. When according to the question in the timeline of human history did modern technology begin? Which civilization of the world today can successfully claim to be untouched by modern technology? What constitutes this term “modern technological” progress according to the question? How does the question view the quote “Child is the father of man” in this context? Hoping it wouldn’t be incorrect and wouldn’t amount to snatching the credit off the question, we need to freeze on some vital assumptions. Firstly, all through human civilizations there has always been a quest to explore; experiment; invent and make life simpler, healthier and comfortable isn’t it? Be it the invention of the wheel, invention of fire or the six simple machines to move things or the recent advancements in the field of art, math, architecture, engineering, telecommunication, transportation, aeronautics, space research, medicine, ceramics, textile, rubber, artificial intelligence, Nano-technology etc. Can we deny the presence and the influence of modern technology on the world? We cannot but appreciate its presence and understand that is inextricably interwoven in every aspect of human existence today. Secondly, yesterday’s inventions reach the common man today, while tomorrow’s technology gets built for the military and the super-rich celebrities of the day. For e.g. there wouldn’t be laptops today if not for the gargantuan complex calculator machines of the mid-20th century. If not for the primitive aircraft designed by the Right brothers in 1903 (also please remember earliest sketches of a flying machine were made by Leonardo Da Vinci in 15th Century) can we imagine of today’s A380s, supersonic planes and helicopters? So let’s agree that modern technological progress has never ceased to exist across the whole of human history and it isn’t something that is recent. The only aspect to be observed is the fact that any new technology that gets celebrated as modern today fades away into the oblivion in course of time. So there is no perpetual quality reserved for a certain technology that preserves it till eternity. This temporal attribute is the fulcrum of the term modern technology and we need to understand that all technologies are in vogue as long as they remain relevant. Any technology of merit isn’t good or bad by its own virtue but can be explored or exploited for the good or bad by the user knowingly or unknowingly. Finally, having laid out the context for discussion about the question let’s raise the next rung of questions. Can children be immune to such technological developments? Or should children be immune to them? It is a resounding ‘No’ indeed, right? In fact why should they be so? But a no with a reservation; a reservation so that they do retain and grow some of the profound human qualities of compassion, benevolence, gratitude, healthy relationships, values etc. Children are dependent on adults for many of their physical, emotional, knowledge and spiritual needs. They form the vulnerable segment of any society and any shortcomings on their part or strong influences in their progress cannot be discussed unless we look at what values the parents and other adults of the society hold as they are the prime decision makers. We can now get into an argumentative mode to skim out the ‘influence of modern technology on children’ that does not only paint a good or bad picture but also pictures the progress of children in captivity (Captivity because we have unconsciously enslaved ourselves to it). Comfort, convenience, aesthetics, short term benefits, fast results are the choicest reasons over and above health and safety that that have led scientists and technologists to invent devices. For e.g. Door closer - a machine to close the door; means you needn’t close it, it would instead. An escalator / elevator– a machine to move you up or down; means you needn’t move you would be moved instead. And now the arrival of driverless cars; self-balancing bikes etc. means you needn’t be on the driver’s seat you would get driven. And there is grammarly – a computer program that auto corrects your grammar and spelling errors. You also have air-conditioners that can be programmed to switch on and make your home cooler before you arrive. So what does smart technology expect out of you? – Just be a passive consumer, hardly apply your brain and enjoy the virtual pride of owning it while being consumed by it. So what are we communicating to our children in the bargain of creating a ultra-modern; super-convenient; absolutely-fool-proof future? We are leading them to believe nothing is irreplaceable. We are repeatedly reinforcing that it is comfort that matters most and not compassion. We are constantly exposing them to a world where success is determined by overflowing luxuries and lack of humane qualities. Building a world with technology that potentially reduces human interaction and prepares people to get addicted to comfort (laziness) is the misplaced mantra. This ruthlessly mechanistic modern technology has pushed human sensitivity to its peril. The world is gradually witnessing an extremely shocking change in human behaviour that threatens to erode the peace from the face of the earth and cause irreparable damage through violence generated by technology addicted behaviour. This is seen due to spurt in increased cases of suicidal tendencies, sudden violent out bursts of frustration and supressed emotions, depression, killer instincts, suicides and murders experienced amongst young adolescents and school children reported during the telecast of certain serials on television, Netflix, YouTube etc. or during the publication of results for examinations. We wouldn’t be doing greater harm to our children in trying to look at technology for answer to the above problem. The challenge is a strange one, where as humans we seem to have given undue importance to technology that it has gained enough strength to strip us off our human qualities and overpower us. Are today’s inventions leading children to an exclusive world created by virtual ideals where comfort and adulation of the self gets prime importance as human interactions become a rarity? Are scientists overlooking the undesired results of designing a scary, cold, un-friendly world that gets its humans replaced by machines? What’s the price that we might end up paying for unduly glorifying and introducing technology into children’s lives so early on? In the future wouldn’t it be rude if we were to say a child is unfriendly or impolite because he / she didn’t offer help or support to their neighbours in need? It simply would mean we have morally failed in our responsibility to provide enough opportunities for the child to build its emotional intelligence and core values of life. The mobile phone is the single most influential gadget in the lives of children today. There has been no personal device before that was as intimate as a mobile phone. Till about two decades ago, there was one TV, one washing machine, one refrigerator, one telephone, one car, one or two bikes for the entire household. Still these gadgets continue to remain in their earlier proportions while the mobile phones have rivalled and outnumbered them overnight. We find that most school going children are glued to their mobile phone screens most of the time, at home at school. The exposure of dopamine from all screen based gadgets I have lost sight on the definition of a famous quote about freedom “Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.” Forget the nose, today; we have arms of managements; eyes of governments, ears of corporates creeping into every public and private space through CCTVs (Closed Circuit Television Cameras). In the name of providing a safe and secure environment they have partnered in building a world where compromised values are the norm. No doubt it provides vital clues to decode a crime scene but it has also eaten its way ruthlessly into every personal interaction between fellow mates in schools, in offices, in airports, in restaurants, in bakeries, in railway stations etc. whose privacy is outrageously breached and their personal terrain plundered. The CCTVs are now restricted to guard and monitor the fortresses that only have left bedrooms and bathrooms from being invaded, let’s believe so? And the law is playing a silent fiddle to the whole phenomenon. For e.g. We all know that Google reads our emails before we do. We have thoughtlessly accepted the fact that twitter and Facebook posts are read by intelligence agencies before being read by its intended recipients and have the audacity to exclaim we are smart. Is this ok? We shall now handover the baton to the other side hoping that a contrastingly positive picture emerges from its dark shadows. Can you imagine what the young woman Malala Yousafzai from Pakistan who won the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 had to say? She said “Technology has contributed a lot to the world,” said “Technology is growing; we must educate our future generation so they will be ready for changes we are going to see.” Can you imagine the successful execution of a complex surgery in remote corner of the world in the event of an unforeseen emergency? Can you think of a better blessing than when you witness the prevention of accidents (caused due to human error) through timely intervention by technology? Our children are growing up in this positive atmosphere where science and technology are very empathic towards the environment and fellow humans. There can be very little doubt that they would remain grounded and humane in future too. It might be hard to believe that Steve Jobs, the Ex-CEO of AppleTM had a no gadget rule to limit the use of mobile phones and screen time at home. Why did the person who was considered to be the technology evangelists to the world restrain his kids from engaging with the gadgets? Why was this moderation required at home? The reason is backed by strong evidence that sustained or prolonged exposure to the digital screen is the cause for most chronic life-style driven diseases and disorders and he was only trying to play his cards with wisdom at home. Ignoring the above fact, we continue to get our children accustomed to the superficially sophisticated stupid culture of clicking the ok button before reading through its conditions and blindly agreeing to sign into any service that is offered through the screen. To question is an expression of intelligence and to deny or circumvent the process is to wipe out this important cog in defining the progress of children. It is unjust. We expect our children to surrender meekly, to compromise, without questioning the intent of the service provider. In the process, whom are we benefitting? Why should we build a society that gives in easily? Can’t we create a level playing field? What is our right over our life or our children’s lives? Are we pledging too much for the freebies being offered. We all know that through an android or an IOS phone the app provider can track the physical movement of the user, map the pattern of purchase, know our areas of personal interest, eaves drop into intimate conversations and build the big data for their next big thing. What’s the fun in being armless, toothless and spineless vertebrates? No right is ever given; it is always fought and won. This ugly influence of technology will leave our world in tatters if we don’t prepare our children. This dark side of today’s heartless communication technology that unfairly demonises and hijacks the humane spirit of inventors from the past and enslaves intelligently crafted applications to exploit by holding supreme control in storing, transmitting, sharing personal information of millions of people for untold gains needs to be brought to the trial room soon. Let us reserve some innocence for our children. Let god bless our children. Let us help our children gain a skill to balance technology without compromising humane values in their lives. Let our technology allow our children to be children before they become adults.