I’m reading a book called Kaboom, which is about a man who launched a program that builds playgrounds in disadvantaged areas that really needs them. While I’ve just started it, what I have read so far has really struck a cord with me. According to a study, today’s children are now 6 times more likely to play a video game than ride a bike on a typical day.
Did you just read that!?!? SIX TIMES more likely! As much as that horrifies me, I believe it. We live in a small town – a “safe” town where kids still walk to school and people know at least some of their neighbors by name. Yet, I rarely see kids playing in their front yard anymore. I might see two kids riding their bikes, but it’s rare enough that I think “Hey, there are some kids riding their bikes!” Most of the playgrounds Mason and I visit are ghost towns. I see dozens of trampolines and a handful of swimming pools on my way home from work and I never see anyone jumping or swimming.
I grew up in this town. I put hundreds of miles on my bike (well, somedays it was a horse and other days a motorcycle…) and rollerblades every summer. I spent hours every day playing at the playground. I attempted to play tennis (on the now barren tennis courts) and spent every Friday night playing Hide and Go Seek Tag with a dozen neighbor kids. My mother literally rang a bell went it was time for us to come home for the evening. It makes me sad to think that Mason won’t have that same childhood.
I was trying to wrap my brain around why things are so different. At first I was like “Ah ha, video games!!” Case in point, I grew up without video games. We finally got a Gameboy about two years after everyone had grew sick of theirs, but other than that, we never had any sort of video game console. It seems like that would be the obvious answer, but all of my friends had Nintendos and we had a computer with lots of games, but we still all played outside. I don’t feel like our area is any less safe than it was in the early 90s, so where in the world are the kids???
It’s easy for me to say right now “Mason won’t be one of those kids inside all day in front of the TV and Wii. He’ll be out building forts and riding bikes” but all of those activities are much more fun with friends. I really hope it’s a “I don’t want to play outside because no one else does!” circle that we can break – one kid sees another kid playing outside and soon the whole neighborhood is venturing outside again.
So what do you guys think? Why do kids not play outside anymore? Have video games and the TV just become that addicting? Are parents less likely to let their kids outside (even in “safe” neighborhoods?) If you have kids who are 6+, how much time do they spend outside during the summer? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this!
This time last year – Sunday in Photos