IF I SEE ANOTHER STORY ABOUT how “kids these days” no longer play like the good old days and instead spend all their time with the faces in their iDevices then I’m going to go bananas. That’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
Today in our local rag is this little gem – Adelaide – remember how kids used to play? It is a sentimental look at the author’s “far happier, less complicated upbringing” – an era that’s long gone. With it comes the barrage of comments about how kids don’t play anymore and “my how times have changed”.
Then there’s this one about parents who are too busy to clean up so no longer let their kids do messy play. Or this one about parents who are too scared to let their kids play outside. And the list goes on.
Stories like these shit me. Seriously, when will people give parents a break and when will they back off the kids. Kids are smarter than that. Will someone please give kids some credit. Kids know how to play. They might need a bit of guidance and in a changed world, a bit of extra protection, but they have not lost the ability to play. They might not have big yards, but give them a sheet and a table and I bet they’d make a cubby. Get over yourself. Kids still play.
All these stories come with a sense of judgement that this generation of children’s attitude towards play is simply driven by fear, immediate technological gratitude and loss of imaginations. Apparently every child is time poor, overweight, lazy, over indulged and have technology addictions. I wish people would stop underestimating children and their ability to play and navigate this modern world. It’s predictable and quite frankly a crock of shit.
The kids I know these days are masters of play, mine included. They still make mud pies, like the old days. They still ride their bikes, play hide and seek, have picnics with their toys, build lego worlds, draw, read, run, explore nature, jump in creek beds, have sleepovers, bake biscuits from their own crazy recipes and to be honest, their sense of wonderment in the world is a gift to watch.
Yes, there’s child obesity, but to be fair there have always been overweight children. Yes, some kids’ lives are over-scheduled, but I can’t see how that’s changed too much (just the activities). Yes, some kids’ struggle with putting their iDevices away, but surely there must have been some kids who spent much of their time locked away in the room reading comics or listening to the wireless. Being shy or introverted is not a new phenomenon.
Sure my kids will sit on their iPads all day if I let them, but I don’t. I also don’t know many others who would. And anyway I have very vidid memories of spending hours watching cartoons in the morning – Scooby Doo, Richie Rich and the Jetsons – just to name a few. I lived for cartoons on a Saturday morning. And I also know for a fact that I spent hours sitting in my room with the door shut listening to the radio and manically taping hit songs on my tape recorder. I would then play those songs over and over while writing down all of the lyrics on sheets of paper. Actually, just the other day I found a similar pile of papers with all the Let It Go lyrics scrawled in my 7-year-old girl’s handwriting, stashed under her pillow. Oh, how times have changed *coughs* *bullshit*.
The reality is I also remember spending hours playing outside, using my imagination and “being a kid” much like my children, and many others do today. I remember long games of monopoly, stashing money from the bank so I had enough to pay the bills and hours of Uno championships – and that’s just last week with my kids. It seems the only thing that’s changed is the technological devices, the sheer reach, ease and speed of obtaining new information and the size of each device. Ghetto blasters definitely do not fit in your pocket.
Societal changes aside, when it comes to play, nothing’s really changed except for the technology.