Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Our Fat and Lazy Future

There is a video making the rounds on social media that I hope serves as a real eye-opener for parents.  It features three generations of families--grandparents, parents and children--with each member talking about what they did (or do) for fun as kids:

It turns out to a commercial for granola bars--but it certainly gets across the message that we are raising a lost generation of children that are so wrapped up in their technology that the "real world" doesn't even exist for them.

I drove past three Oshkosh parks yesterday--Westhaven Circle, Red Arrow and Abe Rochlin--and in not one of those parks did I see kids on the playground equipment, on the ball fields or even just running around.  (There were two boys using the skate park at Red Arrow and there were a handful of people at the Pollock Water Park.)  Living near Red Arrow, the only time I see kids there during the summer is when there are organized Little League games.

That's a far cry from my childhood.  We spent our entire summers outside--riding bikes, playing sports, making up games, fishing or looking for animals.  And we got to experience other things that today are cause for parental panic--like bruises, skinned knees, sunburns, fat lips and black eyes.  Those are normal injuries for kids that are super-active--and back then other adults assumed you fell off your bike or took a baseball to the noggin.  You see a kid today with a black eye or a fat lip or bruises and your first thought is to call the police or Child Protective Services because "they must be getting abused".

As one of the grandparents points out in the video, it's not that kids don't want to be outside experiencing nature and exercising and exploring their world.  It's more that today's parents use technology not just as a distraction but as a sort of protective bubble from possible injury, or disappointment, or defeat, or teasing, or bullying, or conflict, or danger--both real or perceived.  The new attitude is "As long as he or she is in their bedroom or in the living room--at least I know where he or she is." 

But as we continue to learn from the myriad of social programs that we Americans have adopted over the years, the more you try to protect people from the realities of life, the less freedom they really enjoy.

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