Kids can't "go out and play" anymore

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85 Responses to “Kids can't "go out and play" anymore”

  1. Neener says:

    While the owrd “epidemic” might be inaccurate with regards to childhood obesity, there remains the simple tests. the number of visibly fat kids has gone up. when I was young, say 20 years ago there was “the fat kid” singular. Now it’s a good quarter or more who are fat.
    ————–

    Actually what I noticed was here in Washington, DC the “Fat kids” peaked in 1999. Back then every kid had a big baggy t-shirt for either Limp Bizkitt or Eminem or Wu Tang. Now almost all the African-American kids where super-tight tank tops and the white kids where ultra-skinny button down shirts with weird crests.

    The era of the “fat kids” where we live is over, really over, and I’m really curious as to why. But since today was the first day of school, I’m definitely qualified to say that at my son’s new school, a lot more of the kids are skinny than not.

  2. Sekino says:

    Another similar problem is that nowadays, whenever a child dares to act like *gasp* a child (bored in school, not sitting for long periods of time, physically active), we put the kid on pills and brand him mentally ill.

    Childhood is no longer a wonderful, exciting time of discovery, dreams and endless potential. It is now seen as a chaotic and possibly dangerous state that needs to be controlled, sterilized and ‘cured’.

    I’m so glad I was born before that trend; but I feel so very sad for today’s childhood-less kids.

  3. Katybeth says:

    My son attends a Waldorf school which promotes a longer childhood, and allows the child to be a child. Parents, can promote a longer childhood by limiting media, allowing daydreaming time, reducing a child’s choice’s, and not being fear driven–when in fact there are still plenty of “safe” places for children to play–if we use common sense and not believe everything the media tells us about the “unsafe” world we live in. For those parents looking for an education for their children that does not rush the child from the cradle to college check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldorf_education

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree with much of what Parks says, but I think she’s missed one of the prime causes behind the phenomenon: economics. Sure a lot of parents are afraid of letting their kids wonder around freely, experiencing the joy of unstructured play, but note that tons of kids live in relatively crime-free suburban areas. Parks and others need to check out Guy Debord and the other Situationists on play and the commodification of leisure time, for all of us, not just kids. The cause of the problem? Capital can’t profit as much from unstructured, un-competition-filled play. A school- or civic-related soccer program, for example, requires more consumption than a snowball fight.

  5. Anonymous says:

    As an American expatriate living in Tokyo, Japan. It is normal to see 6 to 8 year olds alone on the subway or anywhere in this city of 11 million. The Japanese culture is one of honor. To harm a child would bring disgrace to that person, their family, all of their friends, their hometown, their country. It does not happen. I love America and believe we are the model for the world, but somewhere along our way to greatness, we lost our sense of personal honor.

  6. Fred H says:

    I wish I could remember what the stats are, but my Adolescent Psychology professor stated something like 90 percent of all child abductions are by a divorced parent that hadn’t gained custody of their child. The prof was basically pleading with us to let our children play in parks, as the bogeyman factor is nonexistent. Then he railed against urban sprawl. Good guy.

  7. Antinous says:

    Growing up in the 60s, I was ‘husky’. Out of 200 children in my school year, less than ten were anything larger than skinny. Back then, I was gigantically enormous. By today’s standards, I would be average.

  8. Baldhead says:

    While the owrd “epidemic” might be inaccurate with regards to childhood obesity, there remains the simple tests. the number of visibly fat kids has gone up. when I was young, say 20 years ago there was “the fat kid” singular. Now it’s a good quarter or more who are fat. So combining video games, more homework, and parents driving them everywhere so they don’t get struck by lightning- I mean abducted by strangers seems logical. (note, that 25 years ago we actually had someone running around my town abducting and killing kids, and this didn’t stop most parents from letting their kids out and walking- it started 5 or so years AFTER they caught the guy)

    I get kids, they don’t get a ride anywhere but hockey. They’ll have bikes for a reason, dammit.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I do think the media has an effect (by giving the kids something fattening to do and by making the parents afraid). However, I think the biggest factor is the setting in which people now live. There are ALWAYS kids running around in the complex where I live. I think this is because it’s a series of buildings that face inwards on a well-maintained and very visible open space. It’s not really possible for the kids to hide and the place is small enough that people know each other by face if not by name. I think what’s gone away in the last few decades has been that kind of relatively safe open place. Most places, kids have to walk a mile past rows of suburban houses (which are empty during the day) to their local park, which probably backs up to the spooky and mysterious woods where the mountain men and teenage druggies hang out.

  10. GEM says:

    Funnily enough, it’s not the parents or abductions I worry about. It’s the other kids. Go watch and listen to the kids at recess one day. Lord of the Flies…
    Six year old kids (Grade 1) writing hate notes to the weak and ill-fitting kids. Notes filled with obscenities and viciousness.
    I don’t know what to point to as the reason for it (poor parenting? the electronic babysitter?), but I do know that I’m awfully careful about which kids my kids can go outside and play with.

  11. scionofgrace says:

    I wonder if this micromanaging is going to inspire yet more rebelliousness, as these children, scenting wisps of freedom in the air from their rare “unstructured” classmates, will find ever-inventive ways of slipping out of their parents’ control.

    My childhood (in the 80s and 90s) was pretty free-range. My folks expressly forbade us from being in more than one extracurricular activity at a time, and if we couldn’t amuse ourselves otherwise, Mom would threaten us with housework. We may not be “driven” adults, but all three of us turned out to be well-adjusted and creative.

    Structure is important – to a point. We knew the rules of our house and the boundaries of our yard. We had to tell Mom and Dad where we were, where we intended to be, and when we would be home. Honesty was expected and hard work was rewarded. But my parents always gave us the freedom to mess around and be kids.

  12. BadKittyM says:

    Humans are overreactionary, even in the face of facts that disprove their beliefs. As #28 mentioned, the Bogeyman Factor is (and always has been) alive and well. Remember trick-or-treating on Halloween? Funny how one case in the U.S. which was a parent who intentionally poisoned his own two children by the way, became an urban legend involving razors in apples and lsd lick-n-stick tattoos which annihilated that institution as we knew it within a short span of years. The fact that it has been disproved hasn’t done a thing to change the situation. I think lots of people *like* to feel afraid or stressed or worried about mights, as opposed to worrying about realities.

    I was born in the early 60s, and got to watch as everything changed. Luckily, I got to experience the cool stuff – bike riding with just my best friend or alone, walking just about everywhere including a mile to and from school, trick-or-treating, slumber parties and staying out ALL DAY during the summer, only returning to home when it began to get dark (about 9:30 pm in the Seattle area). Oddly, I didn’t become a statistic even with all this dangerous free, unsupervised time…and it wasn’t because it is more dangerous now. Quite the opposite. A child these days is far less likely to be victimized.

    When I was growing up, parents simply pretended that nothing bad would happen, and if something did, you didn’t talk about it – let alone report it, God Forbid – lest the image of “perfect family unit” be shattered and the neighbors start talking. Predators operated pretty much at-will; it was a contest between them trying to talk you into something, and you knowing enough to refuse. Couldn’t tell you how many times I was propositioned or had a weenie-wagger show me his junk from the ages of 11 and on, especially going to and from the library. I reported the ones I got their license numbers, to the police…and not ONCE was a single one of them posted up or prosecuted. It wasn’t considered a big deal then. We kids shared news and important info with each other – which grownups were ok, which were to be avoided at all costs.

    Swept under the rug or hidden does not equal didn’t happen, though people who want to pretend that prior times were somehow “better,” would like you to believe that. Raise your children to be aware and alert, what to do when, why and how…and let them LIVE.

  13. GraemeM says:

    This is about trust, we have none.

    I do not believe that gory/bloodthirsty films and TV programmes cause the psychopaths, there there already and it just gives than different ideas.

    However we are constantly inundated with these programmes, they are now a deep rooted part of the western life. Watch a weeks worth of your favourite news and count the days when nobody is murdered/attacked/abducted or had there civil liberties abused. And what does teach us? That strangers are not nice reasonable people, that there are “bad” people around every corner and we should hide. It also teaches us to strike back beyond reasonable levels, hence the escalating law suits where years ago a sincere apology was acceptable.

    My wife and I have 4 children and we are victims of this, we do not let them beyond our site.

    Is this a sign of the western society starting to break down, when we finally decide the police are ineffective and are shown to be the bad guys themselves far too often (even when there not!). We then take the law into our own hands and the linching and persecution starts. But hey, at least then we’ll start talking to each other again.

    So instead of glaring or ignoring everybody around you next time you are on a bus or in a train, just smile and say hello, what’s the worst “they” can do, lock in a secure ward? Society is not what we make it, its what we let those in power make it.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I comment on this all the time. Because of the mortgage meltdown there is a decent number of empty lots and the whole 3rd phase, covering a good 20 acres of the deveolpment, is now a no go. But the developer left mounds of dirt, some shallow holes, etc. And is there one BMX track..NO! Kids playing in the far stand of trees…NO! I have come home only once and interupted a street game of any kind in the year and a half being here. It’s a damn shame….

  15. ulor says:

    I have a personal stake in this as a child who survived a near drowning. I was left unsupervised at 2 years old in a fenced backyard with a group of kids (cousins and siblings). I manage to crawl through a fence and near-drown in an irrigation ditch. As an adult 30 years later, who still suffers some minor neurological difficulties I wish an adult would have been present, although I don’t blame anyone. For me, as someone who takes an active role in a 4 year old child’s life (the exact details of which are irrelevant to this) it’s not abduction that is the main worry, it’s accidents especially for young children. I don’t think kids need to be micromanaged, but they should be supervised. I believe as children get older they should get more autonomy and responsibilities. Just my $2.09

  16. mramsey says:

    The article and most of the comments here barely mention the major reason why many kids can no longer just “go out and play”. When I was a kid during the 60s, my mother (and the mother of just about every kid I knew) was home during the day. So I’d walk home from school, greet Mom, get a snack, and run out to play with all of the other kids who were home.

    My wife and I are parents of a 10 year old, both of us work what are supposed to be 9 to 5 jobs (we’re luckier than most, as we have some flexibility), as is the case with 90% of the other parents around. School after-care and scheduled activities are pretty much the only way to juggle things.

    On those days when one of us can be home with our daughter in the afternoon, there is unlikely to be anyone available for her to go out and play with. So, she stays close to home.

    We live in Oakland, CA in a typical urban neighborhood. Our daughter has been allowed to venture out on her own to the supermarket or pretty much anywhere she could get to without crossing major streets since she was 7 or 8. This is not unusual. There are over-protective parents around, but in our experience, they aren’t the norm…

  17. buddy66 says:

    Homework is the admission that schools aren’t doing their jobs. Stop it! And, yes, I was a teacher who got fired for, among other things, not assigning homework. I’m proud of getting canned for that reason.

  18. chgoliz says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned cars yet. On our little one-way side street, the majority of cars don’t stop at the stop sign, EVEN IF THERE IS A CHILD IN THE CROSSWALK. One block away on a small two-way street it’s even worse. Almost everyone in our family (everyone but the oldest child) has been hit in that crosswalk: in every case, by parents driving their kids to or from the local grade school. I couldn’t care less about supposed bogeymen…I just want my children to not get hit by cars anymore.

    My kids spend a lot of time outdoors, but never without at least one adult present. There are ways to stand back so the kids can “forget” you’re there.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I live in Crofton MD. It made the top 100 best cities to live in I think 2007 or 2008. Apparently it’s still too dangerous for kids to be outside unsupervised per the neighbors. My little girl is a rambunctious 5 year old that cant get enough of being outdoors finding playmates and riding her bike that she learned to do on two wheels at 4 and a half. I know we educated her well about entering someones home without telling us where she’ll be or getting in someones car she doesn’t know matter what they say. I was comfortable enough with her going to parks and areas around our townhome that are very close but out of my site to play with kids in the neighborhood until some woman pointed me and my child out to the police while we at the pool because my daughter was playing maybe 50 feet from our house without a parent. This was the same day a 15 year old died after being beaten on the streets by a group of rivals from his school. It broke my heart to pieces that the little freedom she had was being stifled by someone I never even met cuz she hides her kids from the world and never considered making friends with me or even talking to me. It’s so sad to deal with considering it’s not likely at all for a kid to get abducted by a stranger, especially an educated intelligent child like mine that has a realistic education about how strangers tempt kids. I told her a couple stories with scenarios of how strangers can tempt by telling them they know your parents or they will get you candy or they have puppies in their car and the kid never saw their parents again. I want to fit in and get along with this “safe” neighborhood but everyone seems so paranoid around here i feel like social services is gonna come to my door and accuse me of neglect if I’m not right on top of her. Where can we move where kids can be kids? I even have a pamphlet from my daughters check up that says “sending your kids outside to “find something to do” is good for them and encouraged”. I’m still uneasy about what people will think and whether or not it’s legal if I’m not right with her when she’s playing outside. Please send me an email if you have advice

  20. Raines Cohen says:

    @chgoliz, thanks for bringing up the connection of modern patterns of development to the kid-raising issues discussed here.

    Low-density suburban-sprawl development combined with population demographics means that the average distance between kids in potential playgroups is larger. That means, to create potential multi-kid interaction (aka playtimes), requires scheduling of “playdates” and driving (creating yet more potentially-distracted-driver traffic and attendant hazards).

    There is an alternative: resident-developed neighborhoods, cohousing communities that push the cars to the periphery and provide central green space where kids can (relatively) safely come out and play on a more ad-hoc basis, with less supervision per parent, at the very least. I live in one, and while I don’t have kids, my neighbors do, and I see them regularly pop out and ride various wheeled vehicles around the green and play various ball games and make cardboard boxes into all kinds of interesting things.

  21. Jinglefritz says:

    A few years ago I was a foster parent for about a year for my 8 year old nephew. The first thing I did when he arrived was take away his x-box and make him play outside. (like when I was a kid) I took him around and introduced him to some of the other kids in the neighborhood. First thing – the kid lost about 15 pounds, and second, he made a lot of friends. He used to play with his buddies in the small park near our apt complex which was about 400 yards away from our apt. One day I got an unannounced visit from the social worker and when she asked to see him, not thinking anything of it, I said he was over in the park. She completely freaked. As I looked at her like she was crazy, she in turn, looked at me like I was Satan. She wrote me up, and when the new school year came around, my “lack of parental supervision” was cited in the decision to send him elsewhere. The kid had not been in trouble since the first week he was here and his grades were up. It took a month of appeals to her boss (a guy) to get him back. The women in the dept, (if you’ll forgive the expression) to a man, were supportive of the social worker. I’ve never seen anything so insane in my entire life.

    In my opinion and experience, this hysteria about kids is a chick thing, and since guys generally have to bow to women in reference to the care of children, they end up going along with it.
    The reason it’s a chick thing is that in general, a human’s primary function is to at least attempt to reproduce. Because women have an age-limited reproductive span, they have a different cost to losing a child when compared to men and thus a different reaction to the fear of that loss. In addition, because women are waiting until later to have their, now, sole child, the cost of losing that child and having less opportunity to replace it, is higher than when women were having kids at 18. It’s not that your mom didn’t care about you, it’s just that she didn’t have all her eggs in one basket.

    Also, chicks dig Oprah, who from my limited viewing, sees her sole purpose in life to instill unjustified fear in people. This enables her to posit herself as the person who cares more than you do, because she’s taken the time to be up to date on all the new dangers to your children. In fact she recently had a show topic entitled “the gift of fear”.
    I can’t tell you how much I hate that woman.

    I do have hope in that some women, like the woman from free range kids, seem to have become a bit more self-aware and have overcome their own needs to be overprotective and have started to cater to the real needs of their children to become free human beings.

  22. Secret_Life_of_Plants says:

    Why stop at free-ranging your kids when you can “Unschool” them?

    http://citizen.nfb.ca/interview-astra-taylor

    Astra Taylor, by the way, is the woman who made the film Zizek!

    The reason the reproductive apparatus of school and media etc. has designed and structured your children’s lives for you and them is very simple…if a child never experiences the thrill of danger and risk, if they never believe they almost died doing something stupid and amazing like racing across the desert on a spooked horse, or almost drowning in a river, or almost falling out of a tall tree or off a cliff — they will never be able to experience the Sublime.

    There is, I believe, a direct correlation between all the late-18th century Enlightenment treatises on the Sublime (Kant, Burke, etc. — they were legion) and the moments of American, French and other Revolutions that came after. Why was this a feeling that needed to be addressed at this time, along with the Rights of [Men]?

    If you never experience a moment of true freedom and fear and thrill, and live through it, you will never understand real Revolution and want to be a part of it. You will never take to the streets and feel the heady energy of taking back what is yours. Never take that risk of conflict without needing to know what is on the other side. You will never know what’s worth fighting for.

    And you will be a slave the whole of your life.

  23. Daniel Davis says:

    Read J.G. Ballard’s Running Wild – this is our future, and it is a scary one.

  24. buddy66 says:

    I’ve been ”free ranging” since I was six years old, and I have the ex-wives to prove it.

  25. amyklee says:

    If you are worried about safe (and fun) places for your kids to play, do something about it.

    http://www.kaboom.org/playmaker

    (KaBOOM! is a nonprofit organization that helps communities build places to play for their kids.)

    I’ve followed most of articles posted above. The pages and pages of comments under them seem to have two things in common — wishing for the “good old days” and blaming “Law and Order” for making us all afraid. Talking about the concerns is one thing, but nothing will change unless you get up and do something in your own community.

  26. groovybrandon says:

    My wife and I were discussing a few weeks ago whether times have actually gotten worse or we’re just hearing about more abductions, etc through the media. Has the media reporting on these events just made everyone more scared or are our children really more at risk than 20, 30, 40 years ago?

  27. skygzr says:

    My dear brother seems to spend most of his life driving his kids to this and that. There’s the notion that if you aren’t in soccer and band and swimming and volleyball and whatever else, you’re a bad parent.

    More and more I find myself saying things like, “When I was kid we used to…..”.

    Sigh.

  28. n5berm says:

    There are still kids with unstructured outdoor time, mostly in the rural areas. They’re referred to as “free range kids”.

  29. Razzbar says:

    Fear is an industry. At my local Wal-Mart, there is a large bulletin board decorated with missing children. One of the bulletins caught my eye, it had a picture of a young child on one side, and a picture of an adult on the other. The caption under the adult was “age progressed”. The child had been missing for over 40 years. Now I have every sympathy with parents who lose a child, and can’t blame them for continuing to hold out hope after 40 years. But after seeing this bulletin, I looked at the others, and quite a few are from a long time ago.

    You get the impression that kids are disappearing left and right by looking at that wall of kids that spans decades.

    I grew up “back when”, and believe that the dangers are different today. We didn’t have gangs in my community like we do now, but some of the playground equipment had sharp edges, and we didn’t know how the sun could give you cancer.

  30. Antinous says:

    TheFool,

    I already explained at #56 why I disemvoweled that small section of that comment.

  31. Neener says:

    I think we know a troll when we see them, even if at first glance I was surprised as well. only a troll would try to hijack the conversation to talk about their corny old-timey political beliefs we’ve all heard before.

  32. Sara says:

    This article http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/why-i-let-my-9-year-old-ride-the-subway-alone/
    started a fire storm and a movement- I can’t imagine growing up under the bubble-wrapped constant surveillance that exists for kids nowadays. I was a dreamy child, and some of my best memories of childhood are of the worlds I created in my head while playing alone in the woods, of the long walks on the beach alone with our dog in the early morning, and of the exquisite pleasure of being allowed to ride my bike to the store alone. The idea of ‘stranger danger’ is so exaggerated and so pervasive in our society that we’re raising an entire generation of paranoid kids afraid to go out on their own and at the same time resentful of being coddled. My mom used to send us out in the morning during the summer saying “it’s a beautiful day- there will be no sitting around the house. I don’t want to see you again until dinner.” Bless her, she made me the woman I am.

  33. Angel says:

    Personally I think it is so ridiculous when people ask is the world really more dangerous for our children than it was when we were kids – Im a child of the early 60′s and I don’t know about you but I certainly didnt have a computer with the internet, where paedophiles could actually enter my home and bedroom and groom me – and I lived in a time where I played in my 3 acre gardens, climbed trees and walked home from school on my own and for all those so-called anti-mollycoddling children brigade out there, my parents were protective and I was still victim of 1 actual rape, 3 attempted rapes and every female in my family has been sexually abused or raped by a stranger or paedophile in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s so please tell me where it was safer years ago – I even remember my ol mum telling me if I feel threatened to ask a policeman – yeh I did and he and his colleague attempted to sexually attack me and my friend at 11pm at night – I guess that advice wasn’t as reliable as it was in the 70′s eh – please anti-mollycoddlers let us responsible parents realise the ‘real’ dangers in the society today as opposed to turning a blind eye and only panicking when it comes to light – the statistics are far worse than are ever reported none of us ever reported the crimes against us and neither have my female friends who also suffered at the hands of attackers as children or adolsescents or even adults – with one child going missing every 5 mins in the UK im sorry im not sitting on my butt waiting for some paedo to take my kid – im doing something about it and im monitoring him, ive invented my own monitoring system to track and locate him and offer him the freedom to explore yet have technological assistance to help him stay safe something I wish I had as a kid growing up instead of living my life with no self esteem or confidence due to the abuse I suffered – lets mollycoddle them if necessary – anything rather than my child ending up like Hollie, Jessica, Sarah Payne or James Bulger – Their parents were responsible parents and protective and still these awful things happened to them, I remember them happening in the 60′s as a child but our memories choose to forget – times are worse now with the internet invading our homes which we fortunately didn’t have in addition – its time for responsible parenting and not blind parenting – Angel

  34. jathomas says:

    Remember Trick-or-Treating old-school?

  35. aaa808 says:

    Not that I don’t agree with a lot of what is being said but as a case for the other side:

    http://www.lsna.net/display.aspx?pointer=3406

    I somehow think that the statistics regarding child victims of crime do little to comfort those who loved Schanna Gayden.

    One in a million doesn’t matter much when your child is the one in that statistic. Yes, she could have been killed in a car accident, or struck by some terrible childhood disease. But she wasn’t. She was shot while buying fruit from a vendor at a neighborhood park.

    Not all parents who don’t allow their kids to just go play are paranoid, over-achieving yuppie freaks who only care about getting their kids in the right schools. Some of them just can’t afford to live in the right neighborhoods. And change is a long time coming.

  36. Bugs says:

    @1

    My money is on the media. As an example, take the number of cases where a child has been kidnapped and assaulted or killed by a stranger. I assume this fear is one of the biggies that makes parents keep their kids in sight? Take a guess how many incidents there were in the UK (population approx. 60 million) for the most recent year we have statistics.

    According to a home office document I read for the most recent year data is availbale, the number was six. That included a pair of twins. So five reported incidents over a year in a population of 60 million people.

    It is deeply tragic of course, but I’m sure that based on the media’s attitude most people would guess far, far higher than that number.

    There’s a similar statistic for getting assaulted by a stranger in London. There’s quite a bit of violence on the streets, but somenone getting physically attacked by someone they don’t already know almost never happens.

    A friend of mine hypothesises that our brains are set up for small communities. So when people think “I’m sharing this community with a murderer/peadophile/etc” we flip out. This makes sense if you’re in a small community, as you’re likely to encounter this person. However, when you live in a big city (population in the hundreds of thousands/millions) — or news reports are phrased in such a way that makes you think “yikes that’s only 15 miles away” — we still flip out, despite it being an irrational reaction. Or maybe it’s just built-in to our brain’s innate crapness at handling probabilities (See: lottery tickets, most casino games, monty hall problem)

  37. Johan Larson says:

    While the high-pressure achievement-oriented parenting that some posters have mentioned can be overdone, in my experience it can also be under-emphasized, and that’s not a good thing, either.

    My own parents weren’t keen on pushing my brother and me into organized activities, preferring to let us pursue our own interests, within limits. Unfortunately this left me, at twenty or so, lacking the skills that many of my peers had developed due to their parents’ encouragement: I couldn’t play an instrument, I could only sort of swim, and I couldn’t really play any sports. And I found myself really regretting those deficiencies, since they excluded me from many of the things my peers did as a matter of course.

    With this in mind, I approve of parents pushing their kids into developing various skills, as long as it isn’t overdone. Coming out of childhood with real skill in an art-form and a sport or two is a good thing, and can be done while leaving ample time for unstructured play.

  38. bcsizemo says:

    Well isn’t this they way China works? You just keep pushing and pushing and forcing things down their throat whether they want it or not.

    Frankly I think to many adults have lost the memories of what it was like to be a child. And those people are the ones making the decisions.

  39. Anonymous says:

    kids should not have home work beacue it doesnt help you at all! its better for you just to let your teacher to help you at school.im 13 and i go to Riverton Middle School, and i think we chould not have homework! the only homework we should have at night is reading! like just read a chapter of your book. and you will be done my name is Alex Rousseau and i think we should not have anyhomework! no no no wait let me rephrase that i know we should NOT have anymore HOMEWORK

  40. Anonymous says:

    Richard Louv writes about why kids don’t play outside anymore in his book ‘Last Child in the Woods’. He calls it “The Bogeyman Syndrome Redux”. Anyone raising a kid should read it.

  41. Anonymous says:

    #18 posted by Christovir:

    [quote]

    Some psychologists, albeit a minority, believe that adolescence is an artifact of having the rights of a child while expected to have the responsibility of an adult, and that if anyone, no matter what their age, had that mismatch in lower control and higher expectations, they would act more adolescent. I wonder if we will see adolescence creep at its borders, slowly expanding as we exert more control and less freedoms on both young children and young adults?

    [/quote]

    That made me cry. I’m 30 now and I’ve been fighting expectations my whole life. I don’t think it will ever stop.

  42. TJ says:

    @6

    London and L.A. are two different beasts. I don’t know the exact numbers but I’d bet that there are at least 6 abductions in L.A. alone.

    I’m not saying that that justifies keeping children locked in the house, it really just means parents have to be extra diligent.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I grew up in a Pennsylvanian suburban plan in the 70′s. It was mostly woods, ponds with frogs and mosquitoes where I explored and imagined. I too left in the morning on by bike and didn’t come back till dinner. I would say I had a range of 10 miles where that bike would let me roam amongst the farmland, side roads, and dirt trails. I spent most of my time without toys.

    My great grandmother told me a story about her childhood. She would get up in the morning, and get on her horse and ride as far as she could until she knew she had to turn around to make it home on time. Her range had to have been close to 30 miles easy.

    Now I live in San Jose. Realistically, its probably only safe to roam 2-3 miles before encountering an expressway or highway. Within that range, there’s nothing but other houses and a few strip malls. Therein lies part of the problem. Its not safety per-se or fear of abduction; there’s no where to go.

    The other part is about self-moderation.

    There are more and more studies showing that unstructured play is vital for childhood development because it directly impacts self-moderation, which is a primary indicator of success later in life.

    They conducted a study in the 60′s which involved placing a child in a circle and asking him to stand still for 1 minute. A 1 year old could barely maintain a few seconds. A 2 year old about 10 . . . 3 year old starts getting to 30 . . . on and on until about 5-6 the child can stand still, consumed by his own thoughts and imagination to keep him busy.

    Recently they re-conducted the test. The results? Children today at age 5-6 were as developed as children were at age 3 in the 60′s.

    All this control and “structured” play is setting our children up for failure later in life. As a parent, its your choice.

    My mother said something to me very telling when I left for college: “I’ve been raising you your entire life to leave the nest. It is the prime indicator of success for me to see you leave home and become a successful, happy adult. We’ve tried to instill our values and morals upon you. Its up to you now to follow through.” She did this by giving me the tools and the option to make mistakes and learn from them. She also let me play.

    I currently work at a job that pays well north of 6 figures . . . and they pay me that because I have an imagination – something companies are in desperate need of these days to compete. They have enough people who can keep things organized and orderly already.

    Think this is poppycock? I am a major saver, often suppressing the urge to buy something because I realize its an impulse. I’ve done that ever since I’ve owned a paper route. Today I have no credit card debt, still have nice things, and own my home. Compare that to kids today – strapped with debt and living check to check because they just had to have the latest game, iPhone, jeans, etc. Self-moderation . . . the key to success.

  44. Miss Cellania says:

    Most places are no more dangerous than they were 40 years ago. I was a free range kid in a small town in the 60s, and I witnessed illegal behavior from adults many times. Everyone had at least one such experience. We learned to handle it. But then many of us grew up to be overprotective of our own kids because of such things.

    I just bought a smaller house in a more crowded neighborhood because it has sidewalks and flat ground for walking and bicycling -and more neighbors with kids. It’s time for the whole family to be less isolated and more connected.

  45. ployntabs says:

    Our culture, whatever it is, is sick. There’s nothing natural or communal about it. With the advent of the inter-shoppingmall-net, ten thousand channels of shit, and the fear mongering of the news media; a kid can’t get a break. We absolutely need to start booting our kids outdoors starting at the earliest possible age. Turn off the freaking electronic toys.

    Yes I am a parent.

  46. Glossolalia Black says:

    Is there any definitive study on the psychological effects of constant surveillance? Especially as relates to children’s psyches? If not, why not? If so, could anyone point me to it?

    I have a feeling that people probably do eventually break down and freak out when the mind is held too fettered. When there’s no silence, no place to have your own uninterrupted thoughts, to pick your nose or spank your junk… you eventually wander out into traffic and scream about the lack of meaning in anything, or shoot up a playground, or dump a bottle of poison into the lunchtime special.

    And you’ll end up on the nightly news for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hi

      In regards to your question. Yes, scientists do see the effects of jouvenile rat brain development in a controlled study.

      The brain development of jouvenile rats that were “under constant servalence” was less than the jouvenile rats that were not “under constant servalence”.

      In fact scientists believe there is a link between ADHD and ADD due to the lessoning of neural development (synapses).

      Cheers

  47. Pipenta says:

    I’ve been observing this with horror for years.

    I didn’t really notice it until I had a kid of my own. For the most part, his classmates were micromanaged, loaded up to the ears with after school lessons.

    With some of his classmates, a playdate would consist of an hour, maybe an hour and a half, scheduled between soccer and Suzuki. It really was never enough time for the kids to settle in to playing. I was horrified. I remembered going over to friends’ homes to play for an entire day.

    I particularly remember one stressed out and odd little boy whose father was a shrink. Momma would show up to collect the kid after his alloted hour and there would be histrionics on the part of the child for at least a half an hour. He was desperate to stay. And mom, a professional musician, could not be budged. Honestly, it felt like child abuse and I gradually phased out interactions with that family. Happily, my kid had tons of friends. He was also remarkably popular with the mothers of his friends because he was very inventive and when visiting friends, he would keep them busy and happy without tearing the house down. He was, in fact, in demand, so I had the luxury of picking and choosing.

    His group of steady playmates turned out to kids with parents who felt, as I did, that kids should be allowed to be kids. Our kids weren’t micromanaged. Sure, they had lessons and afterschool activities, but not in excess. Playdates tended to be day- long affairs. And as parents, we were all relaxed enough with each other that we took each other’s kids on trips and vacations with us. My son is 21 now, and still close friends with core group of four kids. And all of us, from both generations, feel very fortunate about the whole situation.

    None of the parents in this group had milk-cartonitis. Our kids were allowed to roam the neighborhood, to take risks. Helmets were required, but they could ride the half pipe. Life entails risk, a rich and full life in particular.

    As the child of parents who were controlling and stiflingly overprotective, I was keenly aware of how concerns for “safety” can be camouflage for abuse. Like the monkey in the experiment with the wire-framed mother, I was a little shaky on exactly how to parent. But I sure as hell knew how NOT to do it. Kids need guidance, sure. But they also need room to breathe. And respect is earned, and a two-way street.

    I was horrified, as a late-breeding baby boomer, to see the culture shifting into a style of parenting that was closer to my wretched upbringing than that of my happier peers.

    When “Last Child in the Woods” came out, I felt as though I could have written it myself! Yes, yes, hell fuckin’ YES!

    I actually showed up at a meeting at my son’s school when he was in fourth grade to campaign for less homework. He didn’t have time to play anymore, and he was in fourth grade, for pity’s sake. He didn’t have time to pal around with his buddies, nor did they have time to play with him, and this was true of his friends in public as well as private school. He didn’t have time to come rollerblading with me. He was getting pale and pasty. It was breaking my heart.

    My pleas fell on deaf ears. The school was a private one. (He was there on a grandparent scholarship) and his classmates’ parents were all heavy-hitting doctors and lawyers. I was a flaky artist and hack writer. Why would my opinion carry any weight? I didn’t make the buckets of money that they did. And, hey, the tuition at the school was hefty, so they had to listen to the paying customers. Those would be the parents, not the kids. Even really good private schools do not exist to primarily serve the kids, they’re for the parents, you betcha.

    But as I said, even his public school friends had the same situation with the homework. And much of that homework, let me assure you, was crap busywork. The whole thing was sickening. And it is not like kids are actually learning any more than when I was in school.

    It makes me pull my hair. You can’t argue with parents on this crap. They just put up walls. It’s a kind of brainless rote parenting. It’s by the book, and one hell of a stupid book at that. It is a kind of parenting that lacks vision and lacks courage and the school and the community just reinforce it in all of its brainlessness.

    Now when kids play ball, it is not out in the street with their friends. They don’t have to work through those important negotiations of “Mike kinda sucks, but it is his ball, so he gets to play shortstop.” Nope, they do little league and have a heaping helping of their parents’ emotional issues and needs. If they go into the woods, it is on an organized scouting trip. Just hanging out, just knocking around, they are perceived of as potential trouble makers.

    And I most sincerely believe in the importance of BOREDOM. You don’t need to be up your kids’ ass all the time. Give them time to be bored and they’ll discover how creative they are!

    Sorry for the threadjack. But this is something that just makes me NUTS!

    Pipenta

  48. TEKNA2007 says:

    There are still kids with unstructured outdoor time, mostly in the rural areas. They’re referred to as “free range kids”.

    They will grow up to work for / be managed by / contribute to the concentration of wealth into the hands of those who were overscheduled workaholics as kids.

    Well, at least those workaholic kids who didn’t at some point pop a cap in their own heads to make the pressure just frickin stop.

  49. takeoutphoto says:

    There are still plenty of kids who play outside here in Utah. It may also have something to do with family size. People with half a dozen kids are all too happy to send them outside. If something happens, they’ll just make another one.

  50. jbang says:

    My partner is doing the Donor thing for a female friend and I’ll soon be in a position arguing for a ‘free range kid’.

    No wonder kids are depressed and anxious, I think I was somewhere on the cusp of this generational change and to see it in kids a few years younger… just fucking sucks. To image what the 4, 5, 6 year olds of now will be like when those hormones start rearranging their priorities, messing with their heads. It ain’t going to be pretty, and will hopefully make for a reactionary swing when they go to have kids.

    Maybe? I dunno, but you’d hope something would give.. even if the world is getting more and more paranoid. We’ve gotta realise at some point that we are sorta OK. Aren’t we? Maybe?

  51. Giler says:

    Ninny-hammers? Milquetoasts? Hellions?

    This is such an educational thread.

    I suspect that #22 and #28 are having a bet on who can use the most awesome word in their comments…

  52. Anonymous says:

    I had a lecture at school about how language may suffer because of the lack of unstructured play. Kids make up nicknames and play rhyming games usually with other kids when parents aren’t around to correct them. These word games lead to the ability to make rhythmically interesting sentences and even to metaphorical language that may be lessened for kids who are constantly being watched.

  53. garyj4 says:

    I watch my granddaughters, they never want to go outside. They want to stay inside and watch TV, play video games or IM. When I ask them why they are not outside playing with their friends, it is always they are at so and so’s house playing a video game — can I get a a ride. then I find out it is two blocks away.

    Ask their mother about it and she says she does not want her girls walking two blocks alone in a pretty decent neighborhood.

    So I figure it is one of four things: Their mother is over protective; the girls are spoiled; they are lazy; or there is really a big problem with crime in this country. Not sure which it is, but I thank God I grew up in the mid-West on a small farm. I did not know what the inside of my house looked like during the day, we were always out and about.

  54. blwilson214 says:

    Some of us aren’t lucky enough to live in neighborhoods where you can just say “go outside and play”. I would most certainly be a neglectful parent if I did that where I live. I thought about letting my daughter ride her bike up and down the street in front of my house,until I checked the local sex offender registry (we have 4 sex offenders on our street) I don’t give a crap about statistics,its my duty to protect her.

  55. Anonymous says:

    We are attempting to raise our son in the manner that which we grew up. I am constantly telling him to go out and play.

    However the rest of our neighborhood is full of yuppie, helicopter parents and their children spend every waking hour at one activity or another and then finish up the day locked in their homes, or back yards.

    I really feel sorry for these children. The only time they socialize with friends outside of school is during scheduled play dates, which usually amount scheming social climbing by their parents.

    We wish that we had had a sibling for our son right away so he could at least have someone to play with outside. Perhaps we could adopt, but I hate to take an adoptee away from perspective couples who are incapable of having their own children.

  56. margief60 says:

    My son desperately wants to play outside….it’s all he wants to do! But there is nobody to play with. Everyone is at day care! There is one other 7 year old in this neighborhood but I limit access to him because he just carved a number 7 in his knee because he “loves the number 7 and it felt good.” No thanks! He doens’t go to day care but his mother just left him and his 2 brothers to move in with her boyfriend in another state because as he says, “my mom can’t live without David.”

    Sometimes I wonder if my son is better off alone.

  57. Christovir says:

    An interesting observation: in the history of the world, only recently have we had the phenomenon of adolescence — everything we think of as “teenagerdom,” particularly moodiness, rebellion, and impulsiveness. Some psychologists, albeit a minority, believe that adolescence is an artifact of having the rights of a child while expected to have the responsibility of an adult, and that if anyone, no matter what their age, had that mismatch in lower control and higher expectations, they would act more adolescent. I wonder if we will see adolescence creep at its borders, slowly expanding as we exert more control and less freedoms on both young children and young adults?

  58. JulieB says:

    I certainly get the comment about overscheduled children. Where I live, the pressure on kids is enormous. I don’t see how some kids get any down time. When my son was in public school (as opposed to college, where he is now) I couldn’t believe what some parents did to give their kids an “edge,” up to (and including) doing their projects, their homework, whatever it took. And on top of that, these kids did one or two sports, choir or band, student council and/or honor society – you name it, it had to be on their college applications. They spend thousands to help their kid do well on the SAT or ACT. These kids have it all done for them. They wouldn’t know what to do with ten spare minutes if they were whacked in the face with it.

    We couldn’t do that to our child. We were very fortunate that some of our neighbors had the same child-rearing philosophy, so there were plenty of opportunities for kids to play together.

    I have to wonder how some of my son’s peers are doing in college, now that mom and dad aren’t there to structure their time.

  59. alowishus says:

    My wife and I just had our first child and we’re terrified . . . of micromanaged, high-pressure parenting. Public school also scares the daylights out of us, as we both had a terrible time putting up with busy work. Things have only gotten worse since we’ve been in school. Mounds of homework, zero music, art, or drama programs. There are sports programs, but not FUN sports programs. Kids are taught to play to win at any cost, completely ignoring fun.

    We’re seriously considering home schooling or private school (if we can afford it), or a combination of both. Luckily, we both agree that a child can be extremely successful without being pushed through the slave factory that is public school. And we have a feeling that there will be a big demand for creative entrepreneurs in the future.

  60. happyez says:

    #75 – “I don’t give a crap about statistics, its my duty to protect her.”

    I don’t even know where to end with responding to a comment like that, but I can say ‘thank you for leaving your critical thinking aside.’

    To those who also say, there’s no where to play, and anywhere they can play, it’s been locked up/they’ll sue/I’ll be arrested etc…..remember this. When you did (or say, IF you did) go out and play as a child, and you had the luxury to, didn’t you find places NO adults would see you? And make that your king/queendom? Yes? No? Can’t remember? Been an adult waaay too many years.

    So what if the OFFICIAL playground area has 1500 CCTV cameras and an armed security guard checking your child’s insurance to breathe, is closed? There is always somewhere else to play. Always. I can see places I could play, as an adult, when I allow myself random long walks in any direction. Tons of places!

    What does sadden me are people posting comments here, saying ‘yep, I WILL make sure my child is supervised at all times, just coz…..coz…..coz!!!!!!!”. Which means that even in the BB community, there’s some regressive thinkers (or feelers).

    I’m a parent of a newborn, and, although I see that there are a poopload of pressures to make my child conform to the norm, well, I found that the pressure when I was a child was that immense in the 70s and 80s. Its only been updated in law books under new amendments. I didn’t give into it when I was young, and consequently, I am proud of my constant imagination.

    I live in Sydney, Oz, and the suing rate here is in the top 5 of the world (in Sydney alone), so I’m not getting off scot free. But we are lucky to have, in the north shore of Sydney, a LOT of bushland. Which means, a LOT of playspace.

    I only wish for my child to know how to sense when something isn’t right, have a good vocabulary, and a VERY cheeky sense of humour, as well as some good Aikido techniques. All together, noone will get near him. Since most rapes, assaults are done within the family (many stats have shown this), things are unlikely to happen. But they will eventually. He makes a mistake, he learns. I don’t fear mistakes. They aren’t the worst thing in the world. How else do you learn NOT to do something?

    As for fear, IMO it’s those unwilling to be curious or research the self, who fall for the fear the most. Hey, let them do that till they have an aneurism (and have passed on imbalanced ways of living that need about $10,000 worth of counselling fees to undo…great gift down the generations), we’ve got better things to do with our time than over-parent….

    Danke schön

  61. themindfantastic says:

    Children are having structured protected lives because our near future will require for them to be able to take direction, accept the rules, regimented days with particular hours for work, sleep, eating, and even toilet times. Where every person is in the right spot, and eventually the right mindset, every minute, every second, of their life, all to be protected, and to protect the world around them. For the will of the Party!

  62. anthony says:

    Alowishus,

    Have you looked into developing a charter school?
    Standardized testing starts in elementary school these days!

  63. Outtacontext says:

    Kids’ lives are more structured these days, without a doubt. I grew up in L.A. and after dinner mom just said “Be home before dark.” That was it.

    That being said, our parents dropped my sister and I off at the movies all the time. Once, when I was about 11 and my sister was about 8, she went out during a Saturday matinee to go to the bathroom and when she came back told me she’d been taken on a car ride by a stranger. He drove around the block and let her out. To this day she has memories of it. I’m not even sure we told our parents.

    Not because of this incident, as a parent I am more vigilant with my children. But, then again, we live in Washington, DC where 9/11, anthrax, and snippers (literally in our neighborhood) have been realities.

  64. Anaxaforminges says:

    I don’t know why but this worries me. I was thinking about this last night and I don’t even have kids. I grew up in the “be back before dark” days and I have a lot of fond memories. (Sometimes even–GASP–got into fights! Or hurt! Or into shenanigans!)

    I can’t even imagine being cooped up or driven to structured events. The thought saddens me that kids have to do this nowadays. I just spent a Sunday with my extended family and it occurred to me that the kids didn’t even ask to go outside and play even though they were inside with the boring grown-ups talking grown-up things. I would have thrown a fit if I were a kid. I wonder what kind of people we are raising.

  65. spokehedz says:

    I was wondering how long it would take people to realize that if we coddle our children TOO much we are breeding a nation of ninny-hammers and milquetoasts.

    Turns out, it was just over 20 years. Fancy that.

    I don’t have children (and half of you just started to ignore me) but I can say this:

    When/If I ever have children, as FSM as my witness, I will make every step possible to keep my children as safe as parent-ly possible–but at the same time teach them to be able to defend themselves and what not to do.

    And no, that’s not taking them to karate 3 nights a week. That’s just a baby-sitting class where they get to kick boards and stuff. Not useful knowledge, such as being aware of your surroundings–and not getting into a fight in the first place.

    nd ys, wll b shwng my chldrn hw t ld nd sht gns. kd wh knws th dngrs f gns wll nvr, vr sht n by hmslf. kd wh dsn’t ndrstnd thm ds.

    t s mch bttr t trn yr chld thn t rstrn yr chld. Prd.

  66. gabejones says:

    @ 17
    I think you DO see creeping adolescence spread and it is infecting the general population as society as a whole becomes more limited and fearful in its self-management. The whole vibe of our public discourse, the mass media, all seem to just be very juvenile in tone and focus.

  67. dragonfrog says:

    TJ @8

    I don’t know the exact numbers but I’d bet that there are at least 6 abductions in L.A. alone.

    You rather make Bugs’s point, don’t you – you don’t know any actual figures, but you automatically assume that abductions by strangers are worse where you live.

    Incidentally, why would you figure that? My guess would be the opposite, that abductions by strangers would be somewhat more likely to occur where the stranger can be isolated from witnesses, and take the child to an isolated place – i.e. in smal towns and the country.

    In the US as a whole, the figure I found with a quick google search suggest there are about 100 abductions a year by strangers, over a population of about 300 million; something like one case in 3 million, versus the UK figure of about one in 10 million. Higher, but still not high enough to figure in your risk calculations much more heavily than shark attacks in Ohio.

    Assuming L.A. is at about the national average, with a population of about 4 million, you could expect to see about one case a year there.

  68. TheFool says:

    MT:

    “nd ys, wll b shwng my chldrn hw t ld nd sht gns. kd wh knws th dngrs f gns wll nvr, vr sht n by hmslf. kd wh dsn’t ndrstnd thm ds.

    t s mch bttr t trn yr chld thn t rstrn yr chld. Prd.”

    Why ws ths dsmvwld? Ds th mdrtr hv prblm wth tchng th rspnsbl s f frrms?

    “nd ys, wll b shwng my chldrn hw t ld nd sht gns. kd wh knws th dngrs f gns wll nvr sht n by hmslf. [ ssm th pstr mns gttng t gn nd plyng wth t rrspnsbly.] kd wh dsn’t ndr stnd thm ds. t s mch bttr t trn yr chld thn t rstrn yr chld. Prd.”

    dn’t knw f flly gr wth hs blck nd wht ssrtn n th scnd nd thrd sntncs, bt hw s ths cmmnt ffnsv r dstrctv t th dscssn?

  69. omnifrog says:

    The article makes one mistake that’s obvious to me. A lack of playing outside is in no way contributing to a childhood “obesity epidemic” because such an epidemic does not exist.

    According to the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), a survey done every year by the CDC and the gold standard in this type of research, there has been no increase in childhood obesity rates in close to a decade.

    Read more here: http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/05/epidemic-that-wasnt.html

  70. vellon says:

    Some searching around led me to: http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/nismart2_nonfamily.pdf

    non-family, random abductions in the year of the study? 115, 56% of which were returned home safely

    Population of america? 301,139,947

    Odds your child will be abducted by a complete stranger? Ridiculously low

  71. kirakira says:

    Some good friends of mine have what they call a “No Child Left Inside” policy. Now that I’m a mom I’ve adopted the same tactic. We go for long walks, to the playground, to the beach, the library or just wherever. Toddler-directed walks are always interesting because he has no concept of property lines or the purpose of sidewalks; it’s all open space to him and I just follow.

    The downside of this is that when something like TS Fay comes along and you can’t go outside for 3 days because your kid might get brained by a falling tree limb/poorly secured sign, said kid will be pissed and confused for the entire three days. Enter “rainy day toys” and Sesame Street… which only work for so long, since kids aren’t dumb, just ignorant.

    It’s important, if you want an outdoor kid, to try to live somewhere where pedestrian lifestyles are easy to maintain, nature abounds, and the outdoor young folks aren’t seen as something that might lower the property values. Kind of hard to do when you’re in Subdivision Hell or urban traffic nightmare; easier if you live in a post-hippie college town paradise with lots of parks and open space (Ann Arbor, Austin, Madison). Things to keep in mind when you choose a locale and/or a home, for sure.

  72. Talia says:

    Good friend of mine just told me his landlord is threatening to call Child Protective Services if they let their kids go out and play unsupervised anymore.

    They so need to move.

  73. frankieboy says:

    @22; I am angered that your comment was censored due to content. The moderator is no longer bowdlerizing posts that are derogatory; he/she is choosing to make a different point of view difficult to read. I don’t agree with the comments expressed, but I will defend the right to make them. Why, you didn’t even criticize “steampunk”.

  74. Neener says:

    What younger people don’t realize is that if I let my child out of my sight without a separate caregiver outside of my house in the city I live in prior to age 7, that is considered Child Neglect. It’s really really hard for people to understand. Can I park my car and run into a store with my child left in the car? No. Can I leave my child at the park and go back to my house? no. Can I leave my child at the bus stop for the school bus to take them into school? no.

    I can drop the kids off at classes, at daycare, they can run around our yard. A local case in point involved an active 2 year old. He found out how to unlock his front door and the gate and did so overnight three times. The third time the kid spent the day in child and family services care while the police inspected the situation. People without kids accuse me of being paranoid about abductions- actually leaving my kids alone in public is a crime that has nothing to do with how I feel about doing so.

    Then comes the lack of space in our yard. I grew up in a suburb with huge backyards. On my parents block, houses sold for as high as $2.2 MILLION. On the block I grew up in! I can only afford a house with a much smaller yard and much less opportunity. Neighbors sold undeveloped lots for $600,000, so now there are no empty lots. My son’s school locks its playground on weekends after an injured skateboarder sued them. That lawsuit woke the school up and they refuse to let kids play there on weekends. Again, it’s not out of fear that someone might sue, someone already did sue.

    Parents have no legal choice BUT to watch their kids. Former open spaces are gone. Playgrounds have gotten sued. You tell me what the option is.

  75. Antinous says:

    frankieboy,

    You’re angered that I stopped someone from hijacking a thread about childhood play to the subject of guns? Get over it.

  76. Alli says:

    My son is 3 1/2 years old, and when he is a little older I dream of letting him go play the way we used to.

    We moved to upstate NY in the early 70′s; an old apple orchard bordered our backyard. We spent many wonderful hours, picking and eating (off the tree no less – without washing!) apples, pear, peaches and assorted berries. Playing hide n go seek. Dreaming and planning and laughing and fighting. Climbing trees and making impromptu tree forts. My son will never have that opportunity. Why? Urbanization. It’s all gone, turned into industry, housing and convenience stores.

    I firmly believe part of the reason for the lack of independent, outside play is, well, what is there to do and explore by one’s self when young? Playgrounds have been sanitized; not a seesaw or vomitmobile…erm…marry-go-round in sight; plenty of watchful eyes though. Most of the fat, video game addicted kids live far from any real woods or wilderness. And just as Lenore Skenazy discovered, letting a kid under 16 go on a specific mission all by themselves, god forbid be independent, in a citified atmosphere results in cries of abuse and neglect.

    I don’t know what we’re going to do when he is a bit older, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to insist he make no moves without me.

    Alli

  77. Neener says:

    #51: the public school situation you describe does not exist at my son’s school, so you can put your fears at ease. You bought into one of those parenting fearmongering news reports that says weird things like, “there’s no more art classes” except there are and “kids are taught to win at any cost” except they aren’t. Don’t be a sucker- buy a house in the right neighborhood.

  78. anthony says:

    #57 “Don’t be a sucker- buy a house in the right neighborhood.”

    Don’t look now, but that’s the desire of everyone in the country.

  79. greensteam says:

    What could they possibly mean “Gone the way of the typewriter”? I bought a vintage one the other day from Ebay and was going to cannibalise it for parts for other steampunk projects but the family (14-59 year olds) are squabbling over who gets to use it and the thing has pride of place in our living room. In fact it sits where other folks might have a TV. We are a 4-computer/no TV/no car household.
    There’s more than one way to make good use of the wonderful world we inhabit and technology is not the baddy here.

  80. Anonymous says:

    If there’s no childhood obesity epidemic, is there no diabetes epidemic either?

    I make my kids go out and play every day. Usually I tell them they are not to come back in the house until dinner is on the table. They think I’m terribly cruel, since there are no other kids outside – they’re all indoors staring at glowing screens of various sizes.

    –Charlie

  81. Neener says:

    #50. Yes, this same thing happened to me from age 9-13. My parents allowed me to take all the afterschool sports programs I wanted, but in my neighborhood the few kids who lived there didn’t like anything I liked, such as baseball or football. So my parents “let me decide” what I wanted to do and even though I had a chance to take music lessons in school, they never encouraged me to practice because it was “my instrument.”

    I don’t want to get all psychological on everyone, but I went into a depression for several years, gained about 20 lbs and watched massive amounts of TV and read as much as 3 paperback books every week- we’re talking about literally 6 hours of couch time a day. While I learned a lot, while I know every shakespeare play and every classic young adult novel, and while I turned my television knowledge into a minor career, once I came out of the depression and started working out at the gym (keeping the same weight I had at age 11 all the way to age 15!) I never got rid of the anxiety and the feeling that after work all I should do is sit down and watch TV or the computer for 6 hours.

    To explain how serious this is, after the birth of my second child, I topped out watching 7 feature films from netflix every week. Every night for weeks I’d watch a complete movie. At first I was so happy because I saw so many on my “life list.”

    When I take my son to soccer practice and get him out on the field and see his pride at accomplishing something difficult I realize so much of that is missing in my personality.

    and while I learned how to use an Altair in 1979… is that really, truly better, than if I learned to love to exercise every single day?

  82. buddy66 says:

    @JOHAN LARSON,

    Good comment.

  83. mgfarrelly says:

    Speaking as a librarian who works with kids (primarily young adults, but it’s in the kids section) I’ve seen this ugly trend first-hand.

    Parents over-scheduling kids, homework assignments that are so large and complex they drain any actual learning from the process and become simply a marathon race. Parents who have had the fear of EVERYTHING put into them by the media.

    The example I use is the dangerous pillow. We had a lock-in at the library, kids ages 8-12 could stay in the library after hours (till about 11pm). It was a halloween event so there were ghost stories, spooky surprises and the like.

    At one point, a pillow fight broke out. Just kids swatting each other with foam pillows and having a ball. Lasted about five minutes, everyone was laughing till they collapsed, including the librarians.

    Well, a parent complained that her child was “in serious danger” and that the “library was irresponsible in allowing violence to break out”

    Foam Pillows. If I fired one out of a cannon it might do some damage.

    We’ve allowed FEAR to guide policy. Kids are going to scrape knees, get into fights, get bruises, split lips, break bones, fall out of trees and every so often, in some sad and rare and terrible event, be seriously injured.

    Putting children in a bubble isn’t making them safer, it’s depriving them of the joyous freedom of being a kid.

    The way I see it, if you bottle kids up, over-program and load them down you’re just delaying the time when they will burst out. Do you want a 10 year old who gets into some hijinks on a regular basis or a 21 year old, who after years and years of restraint pops a gasket? The consequences for an adult on a spree are far worse than for kids having a childhood full of generally harmless misadventure.

    I plan on raising happy hellions.

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