Every day during my younger years, I would ride my bike some five miles to see a friend, and then another five miles to a little strip mall where we would shop for candy. During our childhoods, many of us chose to experience the outdoors rather than lazing about the house; but getting children to play outside today is almost unheard of; as television and video games are more readily available in the living room. This begs the question: is modern technology actually making our children lazy?
Fresh Air and Bruised Knees: The Good Old Days
Ask almost any parent, and they will tell you that they were only inside for meals and sleep when they were growing up. Our childhoods were filled with socializing, sports and fresh air; and the days we stayed inside were only those in which we were too sick to play.
Years ago, children received gifts for Holidays and Birthdays that encouraged exercise and outdoor play. According to Marnie Collins, a dentist and mother of four, much of her childhood was spent outdoors playing sports with her friends.
“I played a ton of sports; I remember getting my first football for Christmas and that was pretty cool,” she said. “My best friend in school was also sort of a tom boy, and I would bring the ball to school and we would play catch together.”
Unlike many of today’s kids, Collins didn’t spend her childhood glued to a television or computer screen; instead, she enjoyed a good deal of physical activity and athletic competition.
“I loved to ride my bike; play in the woods; go to the beach and things like that,” she said. “I also did soccer, basketball, track, cross-country; I did them all at some point in my life.”
Computers and Cell Phones and Televisions, Oh My!
In an age where technology is booming and growing everyday, it has become the norm to buy electronics for our children rather than baseballs or bikes. These types of gifts seem to discourage healthy socialization and even education, while encouraging weight gain and other health problems.
According to a study referenced in a seminar entitled, “Childhood Obesity: Public Health Crisis, Common Sense Cure” in 2002, American children who experienced the least physical activity or the most television viewing had a tendency to be more overweight than those playing outside regularly. Similarly, it has been said that, with the development of “smarter” calculators and cell phones, our children are becoming less intelligent; as kids cannot correctly spell or calculate a math problem using only a pencil and a sheet of paper and must therefore rely on technology.
Technology isn’t terrible, but like anything else should only be used in moderation, especially when it comes to our children. Rather than letting them play World of Warcraft all day, tell them to head outside and make some real friends; play sports; or just take a walk. You may save their lives in more ways than one.