Published: 28th June 2021
This entrepreneur is trying to get your kids to kick their tech addiction, especially after COVID, through LitJoys
LitJoys offers interactive storybooks, games, and experience-based learning activities that have a hands-on approach where the child, as well as parents, are involved
Children have been exposed to screens a lot more these days. To counteract this, architect-turned-entrepreneur
Ekta, who is also an anthropologist, tells us that kids today not just have an addiction to screens but to junk food, plastic toys and also have an evident lack of parental involvement. "When I became a parent myself, I made sure my own son did not consume any junk or used mobile phones during their leisure time until COVID happened and he had to attend classes online. The addiction to plastic toys, I felt, could also be harmful as they have no texture as compared to clay, that doesn't help with a child's growth and development or even imagination," she adds.
The Apple Food Menu game
To combat these issues, Ekta set up LitJoys. It offers storybooks and interactive games such as Travel Diaries and something called the Apple Food Menu. Explaining how these help in a child's learning, Ekta says, "For instance, the Apple Food Menu is a game designed to change fussy eating habits and help a child become more conscious of what they eat. It comes in the form of a menu card where different food items are listed, they are classified as different types of apples — red, yellow, and black. One that is rich in vitamins and minerals and unprocessed is red, one which is moderate is yellow, something like candy is completely black while a veggie burger would be yellow. I have also added game sheets along with it where it is important to note down what you are eating and how you are eating — on a table, how long you take to complete, if you are sitting in front of the TV then you binge eat, leading to obesity in children. There are also sheets which ask you to colour fruits and vegetables in order to understand how many you are eating in a day. These activities help parents also to spend time with their children."
Speaking of how Ekta came up with something like this, she recalls, "The idea actually was born long before I even thought of setting up something like this. A family friend came to visit us and they had a three-year-old girl, who was hooked on to her iPad the entire time she was in our house. This was around 2012, the 3-4 hours she spent with us, she wasn't looking up at all. When we look at this today it's still a different scenario as kids are more into gadgets, with the pandemic they are forced to attend classes online. Ten years ago, I was really shocked and wanted to understand why this was happening. As I had also studied Anthropology, this kind of social behaviour made me think. I was working at a consulting firm before I set out to become an entrepreneur, I was dealing with the education sector too at that point and it prompted me to do something about a child's early learning, how to keep them off the screen, etc. When I became a mother myself, I understood these things better, I realised how important it is for children to start reading at an early age. I quit my job around 2016 to get into this and began with some research by conducting workshops with parents and children to understand challenges, behaviour, and more."
Ekta Ohri with her son
Ekta's books are centred around a young boy named Abdu, whose character is inspired by her own son and he cares about the environment and is respectful of people from different walks of life. "Abdu is the central character in my storybooks The Gulmohar Tree and City of Stars. The reason behind this was to show the kids who read these books that someone like them cares about climate change, practices good behaviour, is inclusive, and many more things. I have a book coming up called Time Story through which I hope to convey the value of punctuality and use time judiciously. I also have new books on inclusion, building compassion for other living beings such as insects, mental health issues among children during the pandemic coming up in the next year," adds Ekta.