When I was a kid, things were a lot different.
All summer long I remember skipping down the street and knocking on my best friend’s door asking, “Wanna play?” And then we’d be outside riding our bikes, climbing trees, swimming in the lake, and catching fireflies for hours. If I came home before the street lights lit up, my mother would shoo me outside again, telling me I was wasting my life indoors.
When I was in the house, I was playing using my imagination. We didn’t have X-Box or PS3. Gosh, we didn’t even have remotes for the TV yet (yes, I just dated myself.) In fact, there were only a couple of television stations and to change the channel you actually had to get up, use your legs, and walk to the TV. On Saturday mornings we had cartoons for a couple hours and then it was time to play outside. All day long. Until the street lights came on.
I asked my dad recently if he and my mom ever worried about us as we were traipsing through the great outdoors unsupervised. With no cell phones. Or GPS tracking devices. He didn’t. No one did. We were just being kids and there was a prevailing feeling of well-being. Sure I fell off my bike and got some bumps and bruises along my adventures… but it was all part of the experience of growing up.
It’s not like that anymore. I don’t know if it was safer when I was a child or if we’re just living in enormous fear nowadays due to the media and other influences. But I feel sorry for today’s kids who can’t ride bikes, climb trees, build forts, jump in puddles, catch frogs, and have some good, clean, unsupervised fun… Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, coined the term, “nature deficit disorder” and I completely agree with him.
It’s that good old-fashioned-get-your-clothes-dirty-come-home-all-sweaty-with-leaves-in-your-hair-and-snot-dripping-down-your-face play that this generation is missing entirely. Sure, there are organized sports and backyard play-dates but most kids opt for staying inside, watching TV, playing video games, and living in a virtual world on their gadgets. This lack of vigorous play; this sedentary life is what’s feeding our super-sized childhood obesity epidemic and a host of other behavioral disorders.
I realize that it’s a crazy world out there and we’re right to be cautious with our kids. Yet I can’t help but long for a freer existence for our children… for a life that isn’t so structured and monitored… for days filled with high-energy horsing around… for a simpler time where they can be kids. And they can play. All day. Outside. Until the street lights come on.Like us on Facebook Follow KidTribe on Twitter