I’ve heard it said often, ”the kids of today have it so much better than their parents”. Every generation wants their children to have a better life than they had. However, I honestly think that today’s kids are really missing out.
The so called “age of technology” is depriving today’s children of using their imagination. Just watch any kid who is denied access to their electronic devices, they are lost, bored and restless and unable to entertain themselves for a couple of hours.
It is so easy for today’s parents to give their children some kind of electronic baby-sitter, some kind of hand held game or access to movies or, in fact, anything that will entertain them for a few hours till the journey, or the visit with grandma or even waiting for the meal in a restaurant is over.
Leave young children alone with a cardboard box and they will turn it into a fort, a train, a fire truck, a house or some sort of plaything, and entertain themselves for hours. However, once that child enjoys the wonderland of hand held electronic games, the box is just a box and needs to go out with the recycling. They lose the untold adventures that their imagination is able to provide.
Just watch a toddler with a wrapped gift. First the colours and shapes on the gift wrap are examined thoroughly, smelled, chewed, turned over and over and then maybe torn a little. The idea of something inside the wrapper is an experience yet to be learned. Usually parents lose patience and have to help the child along, by opening the gift. Inside is a box, usually brightly coloured and shiny, WOW, anther amazing thing to examine, shake and explore.
Excited parents will usually not be able to resist opening the box so their child can view the toy inside the package, they are then quite often disappointed as the child discards the toy and continues exploring the box. Boxes can be climbed on, crawled into, put over the head and rolled over in. The toddler doesn’t have the ability to share his imagination with the parent, but he is obviously loving the joy of the box and what was supposed to be the gift, is ignored.
Remember the wet days of our childhood when our parent would spread a blanket over the table, or between two chairs, to make us a cave? That cave became whatever we wanted it to be, alone or with friends, it was a perfect place to use our imagination for hours on end. Just the fact that we were hidden from view made it exciting, our imagination knew no bounds.
Summer days were especially great, off after breakfast to collect our friends and be gone for the day. A bottle of water and lemonade powder, a bag of jam sandwiches, and our friends, made the possibilities endless. Two or three of our gang had bicycles and while the owner of each one stood and pedalled, another pal could sit on the seat and yet another one perched, precariously, on the handlebars. That way everyone got to travel in style. The day would be a blank canvas for us to fill in with whatever way our imagination took us.
As long as we were back in our homes by the time the street lights came on, nobody really cared what we did. If we got out of line, any passing adult would feel free to tell us off or to give us a quick swat, if they thought it necessary. This would be viewed as assault in today’s world, but if we reported it to our parents, their attitude would be to give us another swat, for causing trouble.
I love my grandchildren dearly but I honestly think that the younger ones have never learned the joy of using their imagination, even reading is a chore, they only seem happy when involved in some kind of electronic fantasy. Their parents are never without a smart phone in their hands and conversation is almost a thing of the past.
Yes, I am an old fart, I am completely out of touch with today’s world but I’m not too old to remember my childhood. I guess it is an ongoing gap between the generations but we had so little, by today’s standards, and yet I honestly feel that we had so much more. What is an added bonus is the fact that I can look back on it all and relive the joy. Try doing that with a hand held game.