We can all think of at least a few occasions when someone has told us that things were better in the past. They’ll say: “X number of years ago, we didn’t have all this!” – and “this” can mean anything from iPads to workplace safety – “and we were happier!”
So before going on, let’s be clear. Things weren’t better in the past. Life expectancy was far worse. Medicine was much more primitive. Opportunities were restricted largely to the fortunate only. Progress is essential, but there is one sense in which those people lauding the past may have a point. We need to be making sure that the digital age doesn’t make our kids digital slaves.
Technology is amazing. Cellphones, tablets, and superfast internet enrich our lives in a variety of wonderful ways. However, a generation of kids is growing up right now with tech gadgets in their hands as soon as they can grasp and hold.
That’s fine, to a point – but children need other forms of stimulation, too. That’s why “old school” play still has a place in the modern world.
Can “Old Style” Entertainment Benefit Your Kids?
Parents of today were in their teens (some even younger) when the internet boom began. Someone now in their 50s may have played video games as a teenager. So, we didn’t grow up in a Waltons-esque life. However, most of us remember a more analog kind of entertainment. It’s worth asking if we’ve lost something with the preference for digital.
For sure, playing football in the yard or skipping can keep kids physically healthier. In addition, though, these things and others help kids learn motor skills, enhance imagination, and provide opportunity to socialize. These experiences can be absent from more tech-related games.
Balance In All Things
Let’s be clear, if your kids have a console and a stack of games, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. Those games will have their own benefits. It is, though, also a good idea if they have some board games, dolls house accessories, or even an old Rubik’s cube to bewilder and amaze a new generation.
Your kids free time should be balanced – it will make a huge impact on their development if they have plenty of different stimuli to absorb.
There’s no real evidence that video games are raising a generation of violent kids. However, these video games are certainly not relaxing. Never mind Grand Theft Auto – have you tried playing Tetris and keeping your cool as the blocks build up?!
Dolls, action figures, and board games allow kids to be creative and thoughtful. They also tend to keep tempers in check compared to digital alternatives.
Playing and Learning Go Hand In Hand
It’s a fact that children’s brains are more receptive when they are enjoying themselves. That’s why kid’s TV shows feature educational songs. For example, how did you learn the alphabet? For most of us, it was the classic ABC song (not the Jackson Five one! That was educationally useless). So look for flash card games and coloring books for younger kids and Trivial Pursuit for older children. These have been around for decades, but are still effective ways of combining learning and playing.