Youth of today: Thumb arthritis and iPad best friends

Sadly, nowadays children’s eyes are glued to technological devices and console screens rather than on the beauty of the outdoors.

Both generations comprise two very different upbringings, one revolving around outdoor, physical play and the other consumed with gaming – where thumbs are the only body part ‘exercising’.

However, as a Generation Y child born in 1986, my upbringing sat comfortably on the fence between childhood extremes where technology was loved but still limited to basically one pixilated game which lasted three seconds, and the outdoors still attracted us like bees to honey. Both nature and technology were balanced in my childhood, thanks to my parents and game developers who had yet to discover a graphics card.

As a child who loved gaming, recent experiences have turned my acceptance of children using technology as a play toy to non-acceptance and anger. This condoning to condemnation occurred when I saw a child playing on his gaming console in a beautiful park on a sunny day. My anger changed into shock when I realised this device-obsessed child was actually at a birthday party sitting on the outskirts – avoiding party games, play time or youthful conversation. Shock turned into boiling blood when I watched a few children then surround him, distracted as well from the beautiful setting and party fun.

After this situation, I no longer think it is okay for children to immerse themselves in the virtual realm. Obvious to the older generation, this change in belief is, firstly, because the child is blessed to be surrounded by nature, but takes it for granted. Secondly, the child’s desire to be socially isolated is saddening. Thirdly, it’s a special occasion but obviously not as celebratory as the level he passed in the game which took him the entire party to accomplish while happy birthday was sung and memories were made without him.

Seeing all this, how can one not put the Gen Xers’ childhoods on a pedestal, while condemning the way children are raised today as they ignorantly believe their iPad is ‘Bob their best friend’?

Yes, allow children to play on gaming consoles, but draw the virtual line when it comes to appropriate timing. Devices must stay at home when socialising or playing outdoors. As a parent, don’t rob your child of memories when turning a blind eye to the square eyes and thumb arthritis they’ve now acquired thanks to endless gaming.

If the youth of today are raised to think it is acceptable to only pay attention to technology, while outdoor play equipment gathers cobwebs, then their offspring will reap a childhood where jungle gyms only exist as screensavers.

When someone from Generation Y, such as myself, condoned gaming and now condemns consoles and the technologically-invaded upbringing of today’s youth, isn’t it a sign that childhoods have far surpassed acceptable virtual behaviour and boundaries?

Sadly, technology will continue to flourish like flies to food but at least I can be grateful for the childhood I had – the original Super Mario Brothers, tree climbing and all.

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