Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kids lives have become more and more constrained

From one point of view, kids lives are better. They have so many more toys! They have an amazing amount of electronic stimulation! Their parents are constantly driving them here and there for sports, arts, and other enrichment activities!

But I look at many kids lives, and I'm saddened. What they do not have is so important. Here's some of the things that I had, growing up in the 1970's, that most kids (including mine) do not have:
The chance to knock on a neighbors door, to ask a child out to play, and have a 50/50 chance that they will be successful
The ability to roam freely in open areas with friends, doing things like making cattails swords. Just messing about in the outdoors, having fun.

In our neighborhood (and from what I hear from friends, most neighborhoods are like this), there are never any kids playing on the street. And I mean never. The chances that while walking around, you'll see any activity whatsoever except for an occasional dog-walker are almost nil.

When I was growing up, we frequently had large, kid-organized games of kickball and other games happening, with 6 to 10 kids.  My kids have literally never experienced any kid-organized activity like this. Sure, they're been to organized sports activities like soccer, where somebody tells them where to go, what to do, how to play, etc. But that's a 100% different experience, and much inferior to a group of kids working it out themselves, communicating and negotiating with their peers, and having fun on their own initiative.

I recommend the book Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) as a good overview of the problem. I can't say I have any particular solutions myself.


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