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  • Bill Chastain

Bum Rap For Kids

Kids are getting a bum rap.

They are routinely condemned for preferring video games to playing outside. Typical adult rhetoric: “It wasn’t like that when we were kids! We went outdoors and played all day!”

You hear more of this the longer the summer rolls along. I think it’s piling on.

First, if we had video games when we were kids, we would have sat in front of “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto” like our lives depended on the outcome. Anybody who says otherwise is not being honest. Next, we talk about all the stuff we did outside–and we did–but the climate was different.

Kid playing video gamesTake riding your bike. Going all over the place was acceptable. You didn’t have to check in like you do today. I don’t know if that’s because things are so dangerous out in the big, bad world, or if it’s simply a case of helicopter parents.

Recently while riding my bicycle–I still get to ride wherever I want if I clear it with Patti–I drove past one of the fields where we played lob ball pick-up games. Nobody was playing. Of course, they couldn’t since the gates were locked.

I also observed a lack of venues in my old neighborhood. Swann Circle had once been our Wrigley Field. Those friendly confines are now covered with trees, not ivy. And the vacant lots that facilitated any number of games all have houses built on them.

So we bark about kids not getting outside and playing like we did in the old days, but there’s nowhere to play, save for the organized team practices or lessons that are more like job interviews than play. This tells me the problem might not be the kids.

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