The Millennial Generation is evolving faster than ever before. There’s a constant need to keep up and move with the times; fail to keep learning and you’ll get left behind. But there’s one important past-time that’s been forgotten and we desperately need to get it back.
There’s one thing that the latter part of this generation has left behind. And not in a good way. And that’s the ability to go outside and actually PLAY. To run around, get dirty, explore and create adventures. Studies have shown that the youth of today are more inclined to stay inside, watch television, play video games and computer games and even do their homework, rather than go outside and play! If you grew up in the 1970’s, 80’s or the very early 90’s, you would have enjoyed more than two hours playing outside every single day and a further nine hours over the course of the weekend. Today’s kids now only spend about an hour outside each weekday and approximately four hours over the course of the whole weekend. How the times have changed. It’s certainly a far cry from my younger days when my parents had to force me inside every single day!
I have so many fond memories of my childhood. I remember hours spent riding around the street on bicycles, rollerblades, scooters and skateboards. I have special memories of my Dad teaching me how to catch, carry and kick a footy in the park after school, until the streetlights came on and it was so dark that you couldn’t see anymore. I remember weekends spent playing cricket on the driveway, taking it in turns to bat, bowl and field, always careful not to hit the ball into parked cars, over fences or through the neighbours window. When we’d had enough of cricket, we’d take the bucket of jumbo coloured chalk pieces and draw hopscotch on the bitumen, and play until the soles of our feet were red raw from jumping on the hot, rough ground. There were long days spent in the swimming pool, doing backflips off the rocks and seeing how many laps we could do without coming up for air. I remember finding secret hiding spots in the park and pretending it was a whole other world where no one could ever find me. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.
If you’re over the age of 20, I’m sure you have similar stories about your childhood. And certainly if you belong to Generation X or the Baby Boomer Generation, your childhood stories would have been remembered and told to your children and grandchildren countless times over. You’ll remember what it was like to make your own fun, to create games out of seemingly useless and boring items. You weren’t scared of your neighbourhood, you didn’t need technology to create your fun – you were a dreamer and you could make fun out of anything. I’m sure you remember not having a care in the world, the only thing you had to worry about was going home when the streetlights came on. Those were the good days right?
So what happened? Crime and violence increased and naturally, parents became more aware, cautious and protective over their children. Technology advanced and we became addicted to video games, touch screens and all things digital. And just like that, it seems like everything changed in the blink of an eye.
Some of the best moments of my childhood were spent outside. And I feel sad that the children of the future, my children, may never get to experience that. They may never be in touch with nature the same way that we were. They’ll probably never know what it’s like to live without trepidation, to not be scared of every stranger, or what it feels like to be carefree, untroubled and unafraid.
It’s hard for me to say that I would never give my child an iPad. I don’t have any kids yet, so I can’t possibly begin to imagine how much of a saving grace an iPad or video game could be in certain situations. But I do think there’s a time and place for it and that the line might get a little blurry sometimes. I know plenty of people who have children that sit inside all day, sometimes never even getting out of their pyjamas. And I’d be lying if I didn’t think that was a crying shame.
So I encourage every child to go outside and just PLAY. Going outside never hurt us! We played in the rain and didn’t get a cold; we had cuts and bruises that we wore proudly as battle scars. We ate sand, dirt and bugs and didn’t die. We made friends with the kids down the street. Our immune systems were strong and so was our thirst for adventure! We survived! And I like to think we turned out alright.