Indonesian mayor proposes giving schoolchildren chicks to raise to combat mobile phone addiction

A chick. Photo: Pexels
A chick. Photo: Pexels

Mobile phone addiction, more commonly referred to as “gadget addiction” in Indonesia, has become a legitimate concern for many parents whose kids just can’t take their eyes off of the screen (though it must be said that many parents suffer from this affliction too).

Whether or not gadget addiction is a genuine psychiatric disorder is still up for debate, but the mayor of the West Java capital of Bandung has proposed a way in which elementary and junior high school students can fight the addiction.

“We are studying this. There will be a program where children will be given chicks to raise. This is the breakthrough,” Mayor Oded M. Danial told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Kumparan.

“This is so that children will be preoccupied, and that they won’t be too focused on their gadgets. We will give them free range chicks.”

Oded said the proposal is being discussed within the city administration, and the idea is that the students will be educated on how to raise the hatchlings.

The mayor added that each child will be given small coops in which to raise the chicks, and that prize bicycles await those who raise the biggest chickens. Oded is planning for a trial run of the program involving 30 children in 30 subdistricts, and may implement the program city-wide depending on its success.

Ultimately, though, he urged parents to limit and keep a close eye on their children’s gadget use.

There hasn’t been a unanimous consensus that gadget addiction — sometimes colloquially known as “nomophobia” or the fear of being without a mobile phone — should be classified as a psychiatric disorder. One US study conducted in 2018 found that behaviors of those with the addiction “could be better labeled as problematic or maladaptive smartphone use and their consequences do not meet the severity levels of those caused by addiction.”

Likewise, experts in the field of psychology in Indonesia have not yet classified gadget addiction as a psychiatric disorder. However, regionally, like in Singapore, there have been attempts to recognize the behavior as a disorder due to hugely detrimental effects it could have on those suffering from it. 

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