Walk by a park these days and you will hear something that you never used to hear years ago.
Listen to a group of parents talking to each other about their children and you will also hear something you never used to hear before.
“These kids today just won’t go outside and play anymore.”
It’s an odd feeling to see how this aspect of life has changed so dramatically from the memories I had of childhood, a time when it was almost impossible to go on the swings because of all the other kids using them.
How did we arrive at a place where a screen has become more important to most kids than a soccer ball?
Ironically, it was a screen that helped me to put it into perspective as I was watching television the other day.
A commercial came on for a car company that was promoting a new feature in their vehicles.
It first showed a scene with two kids in the back of a competitor’s vehicle chanting “chocolate chip” and “raspberry” loudly because they were wishing they had some ice cream. The parents were noticeably agitated.
In the next scene, they showed the vehicle that they were promoting, one that included Wifi as part of its standard equipment.
The kids now had their heads buried in their tablets and headphones on, with their smiling parents enjoying the drive and commenting on how lovely the day was and how they’ve never heard their kids this quiet.
Albert Einstein once said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
When I was growing up, I used to hear many of the adults say “Children should be seen and not heard.”
Compliance and conformity was the goal for many back then and it seems that their wish had finally come true.
We now have a generation of children who we can see, but not hear.
So how can we expect our children to act like children, to go outside and play and be social if all we want is peace and quiet when we’re with them?
Our thinking has to change.
I was comforted this past weekend, while spending time at a cottage with a good friend and his children, to see that there are some who are aware of this contradiction we have created and are beginning to make that change.
When the sun had set, my friend’s children wanted to watch a DVD movie.
We were all pretty tired and it would have been very easy for him to acquiesce to their demands for the sake of peace.
But he said, “No, let’s go outside and watch the stars.”
So we spent the next half hour looking up at the sky and responding to the relentless myriad of questions that only a child could ask.
And although they were learning from us, I believe we were also learning from them that night, as we were able to remember how important it is for us to see our universe through the wonder and excitement of a child’s eyes.
I guess silence isn’t always golden after all.
What are your thoughts? (comments below)