Stoned Shamed Depressed by Journalist Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava brings to us the brutal reality of the lives of teens and pre-teens of the silver spoon generation of India. The book through accounts of teens, parents, teachers, counsellors and child psychologists explores the various issues that the children are grappling with including gaming addiction, intense peer pressure, body shaming, anorexia, bulimia, substance abuse, and mental health issues as well.

The book is divided into six chapters with each chapter extensively dealing with some of the serious concerns faced by Generation Z which are not only to their detriment but also pose innumerable challenges for modern day parents and society as well.

The First Chapter titled ‘The Insta People’ reminds me of ‘Bo Burnham’s Welcome to the Internet’ where he says, “Apathy’s a tragedy and Boredom is a crime, Anything and Everything all of the time”. This is what the world of internet and social media brings to us-Anything and Everything all of the time. The author highlights the social media frenzy among children, the constant need to Instagram every moment of your life in an attempt to perhaps seek validation or simply for the sake of blending in. The virtual world, much like the real world is full of possibilities- Cyber Harassment, Cyber bullying, Rape threats, sextortion, Online body shaming, stalking, hateful comments.. the list is endless. Parents need to understand that when your child prefers the company of a smartphone rather than playing outdoors-it is a matter of concern.

The most popular four letter word these days is weed or hash.

The second chapter extensively deals with the problem of substance abuse among the rich spoiled children who do everything from weed to cocaine, MDMA, acid, Ketamine, vaping and what not. JUUL has become a must have accessory and late night partying and Goa adventures are an ordinary thing. Moreover, this stuff is even sold in corridors of reputed posh schools of Delhi, the children are not only consuming drugs but selling them as well.

Chapter 3 deals with the issue of ragging and bullying. The highest number of cyberbullying cases recorded anywhere in the world are from India. Bullying, slut Shaming has become more rampant in schools and the ‘Apni Izzat Apne haath mein’ thing is as pointless as ever.

Sex Education dur ki baat hai

Chapter 4 focuses on the lack of sex education in India and the consequences it has on the younger generation. We don’t teach our children about these things, so they are learning by watching porn.

Boy’s don’t understand “no”… instead they try to convince you.

In the world of no censorship, with our children having access to social media and netflix, are we doing enough to protect and educate these young and vulnerable minds? Incidents of sexual violence are happening on a daily basis and we fail to teach our children about consent and its importance, sex education is still a taboo, sex talk is prohibited and we are already paying a huge price for this.

Body Shaming and bullying is another important issue that the author highlights in Chapter 5. The insult and humiliation directed at these young children lead them to binge eating or not eating at all or following strict diets just to blend in, just to get a boyfriend or girlfriend, to look flawless and to end the harassment. Are we talking about sex positivity, body positivity in schools?

Sad truth: Schools encourage competition not camaraderie.

In 2018, WHO recognised Gaming addiction as a mental health disorder. In Chapter 6, the author highlights how gaming addiction can have repercussions beyond our imagination as we have seen in the case of Blue Whale. Games are not all about fun-Sleep deprivation, aggression and online grooming, all is happening through these games.

Children become victims of borrowed personality.

A piece of investigative journalism, the book makes shocking revelations about the well-off kids and their struggles giving the reader something to ponder upon. The book is a must read for teens, parents as well as teachers. The book doesn’t offer any concrete advice to deal with the problems it highlights but rather gives the reader a front seat to make decisions.

The book makes it clear that it only talks about the confused journey of the well-off urban kids who are given everything on a silver platter. However, these issues are more or less the reality of the teens all over India-rich or not.

Except for some minor typos and grammatical errors, the book is written effectively and the issues it brings to light are far more important since they are directly related to the future of our society. Even though I might not agree with a thing or two in the book, I would definitely recommend it to my fellow readers.

– By Nidhi Bajaj

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