I always see those posts that talk about “remember when” and include all of the things you had when you were growing up. Not just the toys, but the ways of life. Staying out until the streetlights came on and playing kick the can in the street, to name a few. Don’t forget about the toys and the trends. Things have really changed for the children now. Social media, standardized testing, and the dangers that now lurk at every street corner have altered the way we look at childhood. And that is one scary thing when you are a parent.
I would hate to be growing up now. You can’t be out alone at night without the worry of being assaulted or kidnapped, and everything you type on a computer can be traced back to you. Identity includes not just your persona but everything that is related back to you through social media or emails. Trends come and go so much more quickly than they did when we were kids. If you don’t have the newest trend, don’t worry; another new one will come along in about 15 minutes. Your iPhone will be out of date in a month, and your seemingly large tv/fast computer will be shown up soon by the newer edition. I can’t keep up!
But the worst part about it is I think about my kids and how their relationships will change. We are a digital world, and everyone is using iPhones, laptops, iPads for everything, and gaming systems are replacing the typical playdates. Even jobs are becoming more computer-based, with all of our work on computers, sharing of information not just via emails but documents, FaceTime, and LinkedIn. So what about the face to face interaction? I can already see the kids that are older who can’t look people in the eye or last for 5 minutes in the waiting room before begging for their mom’s phone to play a game. I am the parent who refuses, and makes them “make” their own fun. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t want to let that part of interaction go. I want my kids to have the ability to be good communicators with or without technology. I don’t want them to be always playing computer games; already, I make sure it’s special time to watch tv or play their LeapPad, and make them play in their playrooms, pretending and building and whatnot. I feel like these relationships are so valuable, and to be able to survive without social media and electronics are huge.
I have no idea where I will stand on this later in life, as they get older, as their demands change with education. I can’t control what they will do at their friend’s houses or in school, or in secret at grandma’s house. But I can make sure they know the value of playing pretend and making friends. I can shoo them outside (although right now, they BEG to go out) to play, and watch them happily engage each other. Our world may never be safe enough to go out after dark alone, but at least I can make sure they know what kick the can is.