Dr. Aakash Ahuja discusses the dangers of social media use among children and teenagers at the Sri Siddhi Vinayaka Hindu Temple as part of the organization's celebration of the Dussehra festival. October 12, 2019. Bobby Block / The Signal.

SCV temple celebrates Dussehra with social media lesson

By Raychel Stewart
For The Signal

The Sri Siddhi Vinayaka Temple of Santa Clarita celebrated Dussehra, the 10th day of Sharada Navratri, with an opportunity Saturday for families to hear psychiatrist Dr. Aakash Ahuja speak about how social media impacts the way people interact.

The Hindu festival celebrates Lord Rama’s defeat over the evil King Ravan. The day commemorates the defeat of good over evil, and part of the event included reaching out to members of the community.

“It’s a privilege to be here and educate the future generations,” said Ahuja. “It’s good for people to know the good and bad sides of social media.”

Ahuja began his talk Saturday by speaking to the younger audience, discussing how getting “likes” on social media can become a person’s source of happiness. Ahuja said dopamine is released whenever people get a like on a photo, and stressed to the children their happiness shouldn’t come from getting likes.

The discussion was interactive, and children were able to ask questions or voice concerns, which Ahuja addressed.
Cyberbullying was a topic that children and parents showed concern over.

Ahuja recommended children and teenagers talk with their parents or teachers whenever they feel as though they, or someone they know, is a victim of cyberbullying.

The discussion switched to steps parents can take to ensure their children are using technology wisely.

It’s crucial for parents to communicate with their children, Ahuja said. It will allow children to feel comfortable addressing issues and parents can become familiar with children’s social media behavior.

Ahuja said parents should be aware of their own social media behavior when they’re around their kids.

“It’s very easy to lecture our kids about something,” said Ahuja. “It’s very important to teach our kids through behavior. Telling your children to get off their phones while you’re on yours can be very confusing.”

Ahuja said an important step for parents to take is to educate children on the positive and negative sides of technology at a young age.
“Don’t shame your child for using technology. It can be a great tool for educational purposes. We have so much information in our hands, and it should be used,” said Ahuja.

To end the discussion, Ahuja recommended a daily amount of screen time set aside for entertainment for each age group based on the American Academy of Pediatrics research. He said children up to 18 months should not have any screen time; children 2 to 5 should have only one hour; and children over 7, teenagers and adults should not have more than two hours each day.

For more information on the effects of social media in children, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics webpage, https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/958 

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