Overuse Of Gadgets Is Not Healthy For Kids: Kiran More

In a candid talk with ParentCircle, the Vadodara-born former wicketkeeper shares his thoughts on staying fit during the pandemic, raising children and, of course, cricket.

By Amitesh Srivastava  • 8 min read

Overuse Of Gadgets Is Not Healthy For Kids: Kiran More

Kiran More is undoubtedly one of the best wicketkeepers that India has ever produced. His stint on the 22-yard pitch is a much-celebrated one, replete with trophies and memorable moments. From 1984 to 1993, his quick reflexes and sharp brain behind the stumps resulted in a glorious career hailed by his contemporaries and cricketing pundits alike. In 49 Tests, he took 110 catches with 20 stumpings. Years after hanging up his gloves, his dedication to fitness and knowledge of the game has not diminished.

ParentCircle talks to Kiran More about his days on the field, his parenting duties, gadget overuse among children and the importance of sports and fitness.

Here are the edited excerpts from the video interview

The pandemic is still showing no signs of slowing down. With restrictions on outdoor activities, do you think maintaining fitness is a challenge, especially for cricketers?

Of course, it’s a challenge. In the current scenario, the “mental” aspect of well-being has come under the spotlight. When confined indoors for a long period of time, sportspersons have to stay mentally strong, as they are conditioned to train outdoors. Staying in can take its toll on their mental and physical health. When you talk about any sport, say, tennis, cricket or football, everyone is struggling to maintain fitness. The scenario is akin to getting injured or requiring surgery after which one cannot go outdoors and must undergo rehab indoors … this can be a frustrating period. So, sportspersons have to make the best of it; they have to be calm and patient.

I would like to mention the great South African leader, Nelson Mandela, who was confined in a small cell for almost 27 years. He remained patient, and a few years after his release, he became the president of South Africa. Living indoors for six to seven months, with all facilities available, is a cakewalk when compared with his solitary confinement. So, the lesson for everyone is—be mentally strong as things are going to get better eventually.

When the pandemic started, everyone was scared and had no idea what to do. Thankfully, we’re better prepared now, with masks, sanitizers and the concept of social distancing. Slowly, sportspersons can try to go outdoors and practice.

You were part of the Indian cricket team from 1984 to 1993. Many consider you as one of the best wicketkeepers the game has ever seen. How would you like to look back on such a glittering career?

From an early age, I was passionate about cricket more than studies. When I started playing at school, my dream was always to play for the country. Over time, I started performing well and decided to pursue my dream. I played for the Under-19 team, played for Baroda in the Ranji Trophy and finally, for team India. However, there were times when I felt that I should consider a backup career plan, in case I suffered a major injury or didn’t get into the national team. So, education is very important. I would advise kids to not only pursue their dreams wholeheartedly, but also focus on education so that they have more options in life. If you want to be a cricketer or a footballer, you need not play for 13 to 14 hours—you can play for three or four hours daily and then focus on academics. I would always recommend young players to have a backup career option.

Whatever I have achieved during my career is due to the immense help and support I received from my school, friends and family. It has been a beautiful journey to play for the country for many years—and I have no complaints!

Being a wicketkeeper requires a sharp eye, lightning-fast reflexes and a keen sense of the game. Do you think kids of today lack these qualities due to an inactive lifestyle?

Of course, today’s kids are spending more time on their phones and television. Also, in bigger cities, there’s a shortage of playgrounds and open spaces. But those living in small places have easy access to open spaces—I think this is why many sportspersons are emerging from smaller cities and towns. But, if you’re passionate, you can always go to clubs or find open spaces to hone your skills. This isn’t easy, though. If a budding cricketer from Bombay or Delhi wants to practice, a lot of his time will be spent on travel alone. For instance, if a kid has to travel from the suburbs, the journey will take almost two to three hours!

Eventually, it all boils down to your passion and hunger for the game. I feel today’s cricketers are much sharper compared with past players, as they have many facilities available to them. During my playing days, the focus was more on talent than physical fitness. But now, fitness has become a priority—and you have a trainer, a doctor, a bowling coach and a fielding coach. Players who can make proper use of these facilities can perform at the highest level.

Although not much has changed in the game, power has come to play a big part. Cricketers such as Vivian Richards, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev made an impact on the game because of their talent and hard work and did not rely too much on power. To the current generation of cricketers, I would suggest that they use the facilities properly so that they too can soar to great heights.

How did you help your daughter Ruhi with her career dreams?

I have always given my daughter complete freedom to do whatever she wants … I have never forced her to do anything against her wish. She excelled in swimming and did very well in swimming competitions, but at the end of the day, we gave her full freedom to choose her course in life. Now, she is actively pursuing a career in film and television and has been working in the industry for a long time. We have fully supported her. If your children want to take up sports, or learn classical music, or become a singer or a doctor, encourage them. Let them pursue their dreams—trying to force their hand will only create problems.

Would you say that excessive use of gadgets in everyday life has resulted in many health problems in children?

I totally agree with this statement. The excessive use of gadgets has also led to overdependence on gadgets for carrying out the simplest of tasks. This may help to an extent, but if you are a sportsperson, you cannot depend on gadgets all the time. Gadgets may help you work on your shortcomings, may even help you analyze your game. But, on the field, what matters is your mental strength and your skills. If you look at champion players such as Sachin Tendulkar or Virat Kohli, relying on technology to sort out their shortcomings is not going to help much, as whatever they have achieved is because of their hard work and talent. Gadgets are useful, but overuse of gadgets— laptops, phones or television—isn’t healthy either.

How can we help our children be mentally strong in this age of fierce competition?

Children should pursue their own interests, and not think about what others are doing. Everyone has a different journey in life, and whatever dream you have, you should try your level best to make it come true. It’s not going to be easy—you must be willing to work hard and be disciplined. If you have money and success but not health, it’s not going to benefit you; so, do your best to remain healthy and fit. Take out time to exercise every day.

Getting into the national team is the dream of every cricketer. How did you feel when you were picked for the national side?

When I joined the Indian team in 1983 for the West Indies tour, it was a happy and momentous occasion for me. For the first time, I saw a Test match live from the stadium, and the tour was one of the toughest. Everyone works hard, but only a few make it to the team. So, when I look back, it has been a great journey and a dream come true!

Any message to our readers?

Don’t push kids into doing multiple things. Parents should allow their children to live their lives, and just guide and monitor them. I run a cricket academy where many parents come up to me and say they want their son to be the next Sachin Tendulkar or Rahul Dravid. What they should realize is that it is not possible, but I will guide their children and work with them. Parents should focus on creating a happy environment for their children and spend more time with them.

Kiran More has taken the pledge to stay away from his gadgets and spend time with his family and friends during #GadgetFreeHour. This World Children’s Day, November 20, 2020, 7.30 PM–8.30 PM, let us all come together and #Disconnect2Reconnect.

Take the GadgetFreeHour pledge and experience the joy of connecting with children and family. 

Also read:

6 health benefits of sports for children

Choosing the right sport for your child

Why parents should encourage their children to play sports

About the author:

Written by Amitesh Srivastava on 12 November 2020.

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