Why don’t kids play outside?

Petting Zoo

Petting Zoo

When did kids lose the ability to play OUTSIDE?

A friend of mine let her two older daughters outside recently, and they just stood on the deck, starring at her like deer in headlights.

They had no idea what to DO outside.

In the summer during the 1980s, I was outside from sunrise to sunset – only going back in the house for lunch and to go to the bathroom.

The kids in our neighborhood were a mix of ages, but we all had something in common – none of us wanted to be INSIDE during the summer.

For today’s youth who are being deprived of the joys associated with summer, I blame technology, and parenting is also different, or so it seems.

When I was growing up, there was one television in our house (well, OK, there was a black and white teeny tiny TV in my parents room, so I am not sure what they watched on that vintage machine) and it was in the living room.

We didn’t have a computer, 200-plus television channels, Kindles, an IPhone, IPad, IPod, Tablets (wait, we DID have tables, to write on) or cell phones. For those of us who were lucky, there were Walkmans, but mine rarely tuned in any channel except for static.

But, as the children of the 1980s aged into parents of the 2000s, something changed.

Yes, technology became more advanced, but it seems as if the days of ALLOWING kids to be kids have vanished.

No one seems to let their kids PLAY outside – and it’s probably because of the increased fear of kidnappings/abductions/sexual predators, etc. But let’s be honest, all of those existed in the 1980s too, yet the social media wasn’t as advanced, so the instances were kept on the “DL.”

We all remember when the kid who’s faced ended up on the milk carton – that is the only abduction I honestly remember as a child, but that is probably because it made national news and my dad insisted on watching “60 Minutes” every.single.Sunday.

There is also, this is a stretch, but still, the fear of THE SUN. I know skin cancer exists and lathering on sunscreen is a pain in the ass, but seriously, slap on the sunscreen and give them a bottle of water to keep hydrated. We drank from a garden hose for crying out loud. We survived.

Here are some of my favorite childhood memories from the summer:

  1. Making mudpies – for that you needed an old bowl from your mom’s coveted Tupperware storage; mud; water; and various grasses found in your yard. We also made “tacos” this way and served up to our friends.
  2. Playing house – a friend of ours had a nice storage shed in their backyard and we just pretended it was our house.
  3. As a rule we were never allowed in someone’s house, unless it was a rainy day and they invited us inside. Or, if we had to use the bathroom – that was definitely allowed.
  4. Riding BIKES. Oh, the freedom that came with being old enough to ride a bike in a neighborhood full of kids – Oh the places you’ll go!
  5. The community swimming pool. Cost was maybe $1 for an entire afternoon of fun in the sun!

So, this summer when your kids just stare at you when you toss them outside, remember it’s for their own good. We had awesome summer memories … they need some too.

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