Oct 10, 2010

"Mommy, why was your childhood so boring?"

I remember being a child and having to use my imagination to play with Barbies, my doll house, Polly Pockets, dolls and other various toys.  Back in the 1980's, electronic toys were few and far between.  When I had a toy that was electronic, it wasn't very advanced; they were just being developed and were very plain.  I would get out of the house daily and for a long time.  I got exercise by playing with my friends, by going to the park, riding my bike, my scooter, my roller skates/ roller blades and using my imagination to play different games with my friends.  

Fast forward to more modern days where preschoolers learn computers as part of their curriculum in school!  By kindergarten, children are computer savvy.  Hell, some kindergartners even have their own computers.  I see 8 year olds with their own cell phones, texting and even with their own e-mail accounts.  I'm not saying that knowing the computer when you're young is a bad thing, but I know many parents who have young children and don't monitor what they're doing online.  I know many parents who tell me they trust their children and don't feel like they have to monitor what they're doing.  It's not the fact of distrusting your children, but the fact of distrusting others and knowing the dangers that are out there in cyberworld.

I understand the need for technology, however I also worry.  Kids aren't getting the exercise they need because of technology.  Sure, we have the Wii and I love Nintendo for coming up with such a great concept; a gaming system that conbines family time, exercise and fun.  Even so, children need fresh air and more physical movement.  I also believe they should go outside and enjoy their time because it's better than being stuck in the house.  Even voluntarily stuck.

It really dawned on me when I had brought some of my old toys up from the basement for my girls to play with.  My oldest, Alayna, asked me how did I play with the toys when it wasn't electronic.  I had told her that when I was younger electronic toys were just being created and she really thought my childhood was boring!  I had to explain to her that when I was a kid it was 1980 and most of our fun was created by ourselves.  We had to use our imagination to make the dolls talk and to come up with scenarios.   She didn't really understand why there was no electronics, but I realized that our kids now are brought up with Nintendo, Playstation, XBox, computers, toys that talk and walk and poop and pee...

My kids have great imaginations because that's how I raised them, but I think there are some parents who depend on the toys that do the work for them.  In fact, I know some of those parents.  More children should be limited to the technology toys and should spend more time with the toys that stretch the imagination and build the creativity.  Not even that, but kids should be able to get out of the house and exercise, play games outside, going to the park.  They need the fresh air.

Sometimes I see 4 and 5 year olds playing outside all by themselves.  While it's good that they're outside and getting the exercise, where are their parents?  I hear some parents talking about how they can't wait to get their little kids outside because they want the time to themselves. These are the parents who will act like the big and mighty protective parents when something bad happens, God forbid.  Honestly, I don't mean to criticise any parents, but when I see this and hear parents talking about this, I do go off.  And I have gone off on parents who have said they let their 4 and 5 year olds outside alone in a busy urban area.  It angers me.

What do you think about this topic?  What do you think about the parents who distract their children with video games and electronic toys so they can do what they'd like to do?