“Today, 2 year olds can unlock an iPhone, open and close their favorite apps all by themselves. When I was that age, I was eating dirt.” – This was my friend’s status message on Facebook recently. What an honest statement.
When I was a kid, playing meant hop-scotch, dumb-charades, hide and go seek. Reading a story always meant lending a book from a local library. Summer vacation meant sleepovers – which automatically meant BOARD GAMES !! “Stupid” was a bad word, Tom & Jerry was entertainment, Ice cream felt like heaven and candy was the best thing ever !
Translating that into a modern day kid’s world – playing means Temple Run or Candy Crush or Angry Birds. Reading a story means getting a Kindle or just buying an e-book. Summer vacation sleepovers are pretty useless as every person is lost in their own world of technology. A third grader knows the f-word, apps on their parents’ tablet is entertainment and the latest smart phone is the best thing ever !
What happened? How did we go from “I can’t wait to go outdoors!” to “I can’t wait to get home!” ? When my dad got me my first mobile phone – a very very basic one – in 8th grade, my mum was convinced it was a big mistake as it was going to help me elope with some boy. Today, I rarely see a 8-year-old without a smart phone.
When I was young, when I missed my cousin, I’d go visit him/her. Today, the kid just video conferences.
But why?! Why is the kid on the train so engrossed in that game on his tablet instead of looking around and noticing his environment. At the different people around him. Asking random naive questions that only kids can manage to ask?!
It upsets me that someday in the future, a child will not know what it’s like to hold a printed book in their hand. The smell of it. Losing yourself in that world without having to worry about its battery draining out. That a child will never experience slipping and falling when trying to hop around on one foot. Guessing things that have absolutely no connection to what the person is acting out in a game of dumb-charades. Triumph of dragging all the money and cards to yourself when you win a game of Monopoly. Giggling for no reason after lights-out during a sleepover. The pretend sword fights with your brothers. The forts you make in your bedroom. Those secret hiding spots in your town, around your house, around your school. Those hidden treasures buried behind the bush of your childhood home that you promise to someday return and find.
This kid, that looked to be about 11, while waiting at my Dentist’s, walked up to me with his dad’s smartphone and asked me if I know how to play a game on his phone. I said I didn’t and that I’d never even heard of it. He smirked at me and said, “You old people miss out on so much.” I was offended. But then I later realized, he’s wrong. He couldn’t be more wrong.
Technology – that’s all you’re going to be using as an adult. Especially by the time the current and future generations grow up and start working. But there are certain things you can only do as a child. Certain acts where instead of calling you stupid, people smile at your innocence. Like believing that you’re going to be a fireman. Or trying to catch fireflies in a bottle and making wishes. Looking out the window of your parents’ car and freaking out about the moon chasing you. Today, I can honestly say, I had the best childhood I could’ve asked for. A childhood where having to put away my toys was the worst thing I could imagine. Especially, when playing with LEGO’s and I was asked to demolish my creation and put it in a box. That broke my heart every time. A childhood where everything was an adventure. A childhood when fighting usually involved the window seat in the car, my turn on the swing or “I want more ice-cream!!” A childhood that has so many stories that I now sit and talk and laugh about with my family. A childhood that the future generation is missing out on..