Friday, July 22, 2005

Hard to believe but true...

[See previous]

Childhood pastimes are increasingly moving indoors

From the articleThe question is, is this good or bad? Maybe, by providing extra stimulation for their brains, it actually makes kids smarter? Maybe the "education system" starts to figure out the power of video games and starts using them as a way of teaching? Sure kids are a bit more obese from the lack of physical activity, but maybe they end up better off intellectually?

Since I have four kids, I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the differences between my kids' childhood and mine. I spent huge swaths of time outside doing "normal stuff" like baseball, basketball, bike riding, fort-building, hot-wheel-car playing (in little cities that we carved out of dirt in the backyard), etc. My friends and I spent hours every day outside without an adult in sight. Today kids are far less likely to be outside without adult supervision.

But when you think about it, hours of baseball do not really teach you much. I'm sure it does teach you something, but the density is pretty low. On the other hand, if the kid is inside watching a kid-level science video, information is definitely being absorbed.

It's funny that we don't know which is better. Is it better for kids to :
  1. spend lots of time outdoors with their friends, with no adults in sight?
  2. spend lots of time outdoors with parents supervising things?
  3. spend lots of time indoors watching TV and playing video games?
  4. spend lots of time indoors interacting with other people instead of machines?
As a parent, there is no way to know "which is best". You therefore end up with a huge range of parenting behaviors. Some parents let their kids do whatever they want (the path of least resistance). Some end up trying to keep things balanced, allowing the kids to do everything but not allowing any one activity like video games to dominate (anything in moderation). Some take firm positions like, "video games are evil, therefore you shall play no video games." Which sounds dictatorial until you realize that parents do this hundreds of times every day (no porn magazines, no cigarettes, no driving, no R-rated movies, no alcohol, no...), and video games are just another thing that parents may choose to restrict.

Which approach is best? I don't think anyone has any idea.

I think kids need a certain amount of exercice. Probably .5-1.5 hrs per day.

Another cause I think you mentioned is that there are simply less kids around than 30 years ago. We live in a "family" neighbourhood. There aren't that many kids.
A few thoughts:

- Kids and people in general need balance. Sticking with just one thing is not good.

- I played inside (on video games, computers, Lego, etc.) and I also played sports outside in the streets. Baseball, basketball, football, and other team sports provide you with true teamwork skills (which are sorely lacking in today's corporate environments), social skills, competitiveness, strategic thinking, motor skills, just to name a few.

- Being outside riding your bike or hiking gives you a world view that you can't get sitting in front of a screen. Inside, you get an alternative, yet valuable world view (via the Internet for example), but it's different. Outside, there's flowers, trees, plants, lakes, oceans, clouds, that provide us with the oxygen we breathe and the water we drink. It's important for kids to experience how "life" and nature works, because ultimately, that's most important.
I think fear plays a large roll in it. When I was a kid, there was no problem with grade-school/jr high age kids going out and playing without adult supervision. In my case it was often at a park several blocks away. "Just be home by suppertime". Now, parents worry far more about kids getting kidnapped/attacked/injured etc. So the kids need to be in a "controlled" environment, and for busy parents that's often in front of a screen.
It's true what Marshall says, kids are getting smarter due to indoor activities.

Nobody is saying that kids won't go out any more!, just they will reduce the time.

New indoor activities, such as using your computer and specially internet requiere a lot of thinking and investigation.

I am often surprised how well some 14 year old boys write in blogs and forums, and how much they know. They didn't learnt those skills at school, they learned them because they really wanted to develop them, just because they could provide more fun.

A few years ago kids didn't enjoyed writing as they do today. Discusing in forums and blogs has becomed a real addiction! ;¬) (better than drugs obviously)

And they not only develop writing, they learn to think, to solve problems, they investigate. There is a lot of enjoyable science stuff in the internet. I remember that just a few years ago, I had to wait the following month, to buy a new magazine if I was eager of more information.

Internet has become for kids the main porpouse for acquiring knowledge, and they know that they could make use of that new knowledge almost instantanously.

Before acquiring knowledge was for long term proyects, and most kids didn't feel atracted to learn for something uncertain. They had the feeling that knowledge was almost useless.

The good news is that is changing.

I believe absolutely that kids should play out doors more often, like we did. It builds creativeness like you mentioned in your 'building raceways' in the dirt for your cars. We had to think of ways to entertain ourselves. It also starts much needed interaction with others, learning trust and friendship. Communication is still the most important part of business and life and it starts at a young age.
Balance is a good thing. Getting to enjoy a lot of thing is also a good thing.

There is different skillset around. The society just encourage you to develop some more than other in different part of the time.

Being too smart, get you nuts too (philosophy, logic thinking, etc.).

Is it more important to enjoy your life? (Lot of different way for different people to enjoy their life. Some need/want to be a porn star, some need/want to read a lot of romance, some need/want to know everything about politics, some don't know what they want to be happy)

When you die it doesn't matter (what I just said?)
im 12 and it's like over doing a sport you need changes for swiming you could bike every once and a while. i bike a lot and swim there's also an article on this at the nsf and the learnig aspect is true to i know html (web page) and javascript from the web and i've learned a lot from howstuffworks (thanks Marshall) so it's both ways you just need to blance it by excersing
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