Kids These Days!

“I’m just staying home tonight, getting lost in that hopeless little screen”

—Leonard Cohen

The latest example of “woe unto this generation” is from Nate Hanson at HuffPo:  The Last Generation of Kids That Played Outside

This brings me to the startling truth: If we allow the current generation to be satisfied thinking within a 9.7‑inch box, we’ll rob them of the curiosity and creativity that it took to build that very device they’re holding.

If we don’t remove easy entertainment from our children, they’ll never learn to create their own.

I don’t know what the answer is for your family and your children — but we must be drastic. It’s time to stop saying, “But it’s just easier to plop them down with the iPad.” Or, “They’ll throw a fit if they don’t get to play with my iPhone.”

Even Steve Jobs, the visionary behind the iPad, didn’t let his kids use the iPad. He pushed them to play outside, read books and be fascinated with good conversation.

Since two of my three iPad owning kids are currently playing outside at the moment (and I often have a hard time getting them to come in at night) color me a tad skeptical on this one.

Really, while I think my kids (and, for that matter, myself) spend too much times with screens far too often, this ongoing notion that we are doomed, doomed, doomed and that kids never play outside, etc. is just so very tiresome.

I have always disliked laments about the “good ol’ days” and all this hand-wringing over screens is just the latest in a long line of such concerns dating back to the ancient Greeks.

(Seriously, how many times has this exact thesis been raised about television since, say, the 1950s?).

FILED UNDER: Parenting, Quick Takes
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    If kids ever stop playing outside, it isn’t going to be because of iPads. Its going to be because of the nosy busybodies that call the cops whenever they see a kid that is unaccompanied by an adult outside. Parents are getting arrested for letting their kids walk down the street to a park.

  2. Tyrell says:

    We used to spend hours on end wandering and exploring the woods that surrounded our house. We hunted for arrow heads, folled paths, climbed trees, watched deer, caught crawfish, and swung on vines. All without an adult anywhere. We also mastered the skill of crawling under barbed wire fences. Nothing like it . It was our own kingdom.

  3. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: When a kid does that now there’s probably at least a 50% chance they’ll end up talking with a cop…

    You can’t do anything without a busybody calling someone to complain.

    I support the free range kid idea but it’s hard to do with all the screaming of CHILD ABUSE!!! when you let your kid walk down the street to a park..

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    Nothing new here. When my sons were growing up 30 years ago it was video games. When I was growing up oh so long ago it was TV.

  5. Just "nutha... says:

    @Ron Beasley: Bingo!

  6. @Ben:

    If kids ever stop playing outside, it isn’t going to be because of iPads. Its going to be because of the nosy busybodies that call the cops whenever they see a kid that is unaccompanied by an adult outside. Parents are getting arrested for letting their kids walk down the street to a park.

    Don’t forget the parents that won’t let their children go outside because there are two dozen sex offenders waiting in the brushes to kidnap their children.

    @Ron Beasley: Don’t forget the fears about the dreaded comic books back in the day.

  7. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    Yep. One gets the strong feeling that the authors penning these things (ironically) know kids mostly from afternoon sitcoms. If there’s one thing limiting children in that regard it’s the laziness of their parents.

  8. KM says:

    (Seriously, how many times has this exact thesis been raised about television since, say, the 1950s?).

    The Pace of Modern Life
    “If we teach the children how to play….”

    Since 1895 at least (well, not the TV part). Actually, I think there was something in Socrates or Aristotle bemoaning the youth and their indulgence and subsequent sloth but I’m too lazy to look it up right now….

  9. jd says:
  10. Tillman says:

    @KM: Socrates/Plato hated books.

    Writing, you know, Phaedrus, has this strange quality about it, which makes it really like painting: the painter’s products stand before us quite as though they were alive; but if you question them, they maintain a solemn silence. So, too, with written words: you might think they spoke as though they made sense, but if you ask them anything about what they are saying, if you wish an explanation, they go on telling you the same thing, over and over forever. Once a thing is put in writing, it rolls about all over the place, falling into the hands of those who have no concern with it just as easily as under the notice of those who comprehend; it has no notion of whom to address or whom to avoid. And when it is ill-treated or abused as illegitimate, it always needs its father to help it, being quite unable to protect or help itself.