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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Technology and its adverse effect on today's youth

I got an email today from a friend talking about how easy today's kids have it compared to me and my friends when we were growing up. It made me think back to what growing up was like for me and then looking at kids today. Back when I was a kid, Cable TV had about 15 channels and cartoons were only on Saturdays. That one really struck a chord with me because I'd wait all week and get up early Saturday morning at 5am and watch all the way until 11am when Looney Tunes finished. If you wanted to learn about something, or settle a dispute over who sings that song or who's in that movie, you would have to go to a library and check out a book since there was no Internet. Video games (Atari) consisted of a few dots and squares on the screen and your imagination had to fill in the gaps. If you wanted to talk to someone, you had to be home and use the phone or actually write a letter and wait for days before they could read it.

The main difference that separates me during my childhood from today's kids is technology. I thought Nintendo was pretty ahead of its time when it came out but this is the era of the Playstation, with graphics so real you almost feel like you're there. The use of cell phones, video games and the Internet have created an anti-social generation of spoiled young people. Growing up, I practically lived on my bike. I rode to and from school, over to friends' houses after school, and rode on weekends. I was lucky to have all of my friends in close range from my house, but did go on long rides as well. We all went outside to play (having a pool helped). The funny thing is that I feel that today's kids are spoiled with all of the advantages they have but those before me would say that I was spoiled in the same ways. I had a pool and a huge yard to play in, and I did have a few video game systems (Nintendo, Sega Genesis). However, I still managed to get out and be active and social. I don't think that technology is the enemy but it is something that can quickly turn an outgoing active person into a lazy disrespectful introvert if not monitored.

Today, kids are becoming more and more enslaved by their gadgets. Aside from the social setbacks that are caused from having these tools at their disposal, the kids are suffering even more at their waistline. Everywhere you turn, you hear about childhood obesity more than ever before and most will blame it on the schools and their lack of consistent exercise programs. If you start to observe more closely you'll see that the teens and even pre-teens of today would rather sit in front of the TV, play a video game, or text their friend who lives 50 feet away than get up go somewhere. If I had let my Nintendo own me the way that texting and the Internet owns these kids, I would have been one huge kid. As always, it all comes down to parenting. If limits, even small ones, are enforced upon the use of all of these things, we'll see a healthier and friendlier future for everyone. Remember, these kids will be running the country in 30-40 years from now.

As a parent, more than ever I feel that it's our duty to strike a balance between giving our kids the freedom they deserve and creating limits around that freedom so that they still learn respect. By letting these kids sit on their video games all night and have free use of this technology, they will take advantage and abuse it and it will create laziness. I think it's just easier for all parents to rely on cell phones and the Internet and video games to keep their kids entertained and happy but the technology is just pulling the kids away from their family. Deep down, every kid wants to know that their parents care about what they're doing and wants them to be involved on some level. I just hope that as time goes on, kids will start getting back to social and physical activities and the parents will be there, ready to be a part of it. Above all, I hope that parents are making sure that their kids understand the reason for using these things and learn to earn the privilege to use them.


nikki said...

I like this article...or should I say piece of writing. It actually influenced an analytical piece i ahd to write...thanks...KEEP WRITING..:)

Anonymous said...

thanks! always glad to see my writing has an impact.