Modernization and technological advancements are supposed to be good for society, I guess. But I’m not so sure if that’s that case when it comes to the way kids live today.
Growing up in Upstate New York, I lived on the same block as four of my cousins. And there were plenty of other kids around. After school, as soon as our homework and chores were done, we’d be itching to get out of the house. A cartoon or two may have been on our agenda, but Mighty Mouse had nothing on a few rounds of freeze tag.
In the summer our entire days were spent outdoors; jumping rope, playing hopscotch, riding our bikes, roller skating, or playing kickball, baseball or dodgeball in the empty lot at the end of the block. If there was nothing happening on our block, the next block over had a playground and about 10 acres of sheer wilderness to explore. We'd head out in the early afternoons, our only instructions: be back when the streetlights came on. The world was ours.
Today, I'm afraid to let my kids leave the yard, much less roam the beat on their own. In a mere 30 years, our haven of play and innocent discovery has turned to a cauldron of perverse danger. Parents’ fear of an increasingly ominous world has caused us to lock our little ones away from it. Video games, televison, computers, and cell phones have replaced jump ropes and hula hoops.
Our children are perpetually entertained by an ever-upgrading array of gadgets that keep them in the house, on the couch, and as sedentary as possible. They talk to each other at the touch of a button; no need to meet in person. The flashing lights of electronic games have outshined the sparkle of summer sunlight through leaves. The hi-def bass of iPods and home theater systems have bulldozed the whisper of wind-rustled trees into a silent corner.
Of course these are my old-tweefo lamentations. You won’t hear too many kids complaining about their lack of dappled sunlight. And you’ll find even less willing to trade in their iPods for hula hoops. Every generation is different from the one before, after all. But I can’t help but feel so sad for what this latest generation is missing. Freedom. Long-lasting innocence. Carefree exploration. Pure and simple fun. And some of them may never realize it.