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The need for reengineering digital content and how it can help mould society

We need digital content based on values.

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Let us look at the recent distasteful happenings purely from a social angle. In less than a decade, we have seen some of the most horrific atrocities against women that have made us collectively feel ashamed.

There have been so many technology-based interventions proposed to bring down the incidences or completely stop them. However, they are yet to be successful. Some of these suggestions include CCTV installation, safety app (SOS app), and women helpline among others. But, all these have done little to change the overall scenario, and it is unlikely to change anytime soon.

There seems to be no other way, but to increase moral education and inculcate the value systems into all of us. This will help develop a self-checking mechanism. There will have to be different approaches to really inculcate moral values among citizens. But for our kids and teens, digital content can be a real gamechanger.

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Children these days learn a lot from cartoons. Despite restrictions enforced by parents, cartoons are increasingly becoming among the most influential sources on kids’ personalities. However, there are a few fundamental problems with such cartoons. First and foremost is the level of aggression, and revolt promoted. Second is the image of a superhero, and third is mostly how they are all characterized around a male.

All these three traits exposed to tiny tots start to imprint the personality in the wrong way. It’s not to suggest that only the kids watching cartoons become future rapists and gangsters or only these have the highest probability. The issue here is that none of the most prominent cartoon series that children follow including Doremon, Shin Chan, Shiva, and Motu Patlu to name a few, ever have a storyline that would help kids develop in a positive way.

After the massive 4G proliferation in India, consumption of digital content has seen a remarkable growth. However, at the same time the industry hasn’t started monetizing it. Looking at present industry movements, it seems monetizing the content is going to be a challenging for most of the content providers as well as operators. While there are some behavioral issues on the consumer side, the issue has also to do with the commoditization of the content. There is nothing different being offered at least by home-grown digital content providers.

Every parent, while wanting kids to be entertained through cartoons, would also want them to leave a positive mark on their personalities in their formative years. It is proven that 95 percent of the brain development takes place till the age of five. So, cartoons definitely can mould the personality of future citizens.

What the content providers must explore is mashing cartoon-based entertainment with moral and value-based education. The cartoons, rather than focusing on fantasizing kids to become a superhero, should instead aim at shaping the kids as normal great human beings. No parent would want their kid to be someone who can jump over a fortress, learn to cheat the parents, or get a robot help do the homework. Instead, parents want kids to learn the basic human values of love, harmony, tolerance, and respect. These rarely come across as theme in any of the present day cartoons.

For instance, a cartoon should encourage kids to schedule their day, respect elderlies, women and other weaker and vulnerable sections of the society. Instead, why do we make our kids get into habits of calling names? For instance, a fat man should be called ‘Motu’, and so on.

If some content provider is really serious about the business, then it needs to carve out a space that creates value, and not just add to the noise. That’s how cartoons can really have a positive impact on shaping the kids, and we can also see early child-parent conflicts vanishing from the scene.

The article is written by Faisal Kawoosa, who is the head of new initiatives at CMR with over 13 years of research and consulting expertise in the technology domain.

  • Published Date: April 26, 2018 3:16 PM IST