Kids today have a lot of entertainment options. Toys are no longer simple. Gadgetry abounds. Electronics, TV, movies, games, videos, music. And the gadgetry makes all this fun portable. Kids no longer have to sit in the living room to watch TV, or go to the theater to see a movie. Music, movies, texting, talking, games…it’s all on their smart phones, with them at all times.
On the one hand, it’s a wonderful thing. All that technology makes it possible for today’s kids to have everything at their fingertips. So much more to experience. So much information. So much fun. So much learning. But on the other hand, it’s a bit sad. All that technology makes it way too easy for them. Kids don’t have to work for the fun any more. And they don’t have to use their imaginations at all! It’s all made up for them…all they have to do is choose an animated character and the game takes them on an adventure. They select a favorite emoticon to show how they’re feeling when texting friends. And they hit shuffle on their iPods to hear a string of all of their favorite tunes.
When we were kids, things were much less complicated. We had to work for our fun. We had to take a record out of a sleeve, put it on a turntable, and set the needle on the record in order to listen to a song. We made up scenarios to act out with our dolls or plastic army men, and had to move them around ourselves. We played card games, board games, and made up games of our own. We cried, and laughed, and talked through our play.
With so many electronic options, kids today don’t really have to come up with ideas of what to do to occupy themselves at any given time. When they are with friends, they are likely watching videos on their phones or tablets, or texting other friends. When they are at home, they are likely listening to music and watching videos, or texting friends…God forbid they should engage in conversation with members of their families, or sit down and play a game of gin rummy with the folks.
And car rides have taken on a whole new meaning. It’s no longer about the ride…it’s about how to make the ride bearable and get it over with quickly. When today’s kids are forced to travel with their parents, they are likely watching DVD’s in the car, on the DVD players or iPads on the seat backs in front of them. I’m sure they are not doing any of the things we used to do in the car to pass the time. It’s not likely they are watching the mile markers, calculating the distance to the next town. And I doubt they are playing the license plate game, counting cows, or keeping track of car makes or colors. I’m sure they’re not singing songs, or playing word games with the family, or playing guessing games. And I KNOW they are not arguing with their siblings over who has to lay on the floor over the hump in the middle of the back seat, and who gets to sleep on the seat. I guess the only good thing about the kids being occupied is it’s easier on the parents…no one’s asking, “Are we there yet?” In fact, the kids don’t want to get there until the movie’s over. But that’s ok…I’ll still take a good game of Three Thirds Goat or I See Something You Don’t See any day over a rerun of Frozen.