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Child Play Before Computers

Updated on December 31, 2014

I look around and I see children with their heads buried in an iPad or their phones. When they are at home, in many cases they are not outside playing, but are on a computer playing some game. It may be an X-Box, Nintendo or some other technology that has swept the world.

This all concerns me. We hear and read of childhood obesity and other childhood problems. People scream about McDonalds and other fast food eateries when all the time they are allowing their child to play computer games for hours upon hours.

I must admit, when I was younger, I did have a Grandparent who purchased a brand new Atari game system for us. I played it a lot that early Christmas morning, but after that, about the only time is if I was home ill, or the weather was terribly bad. I say terribly, because unlike today's children, we still played in rain, unless lightening was hitting hard. We still played in snow drifts that reached as high as the Sear's Tower, unless it was blizzard conditions.

Yes, we spent our play outside.

Sure, I ate junk-food at times, but obesity never became an issue. In all actuality, Grandma was always trying to get me to eat more. "You're just skin and bones Sweetie," she would exclaim, as she put a big plate of chicken, mashed taters and a huge bowl of apple sauce in front of me. "A big slice of rhubarb pie when you clean your plate dumpling," she would state with a huge smile, and a big pinch on my cheek.

That pinch on the cheek always hurt, but I knew it was love, so I endured it. Besides, rhubarb pie always took the pain away.

So what did we do outside?

image courtesy of chrisroll at
image courtesy of chrisroll at

The Basic Sports

Baseball or Stickball

We would all gather up in a dirt lot somewhere. Someone would find objects to use as bases. One child always had a ball, but bats were sometimes hard to come by. Off to the woods to find the straightest stick we could.

We would play baseball for hours.


One of us always had a football. We would find a grassy, or muddy area and we played tackle football without pads and helmets. I don't recall anyone ever going to the hospital. Yes, some scrapes and bruises resulted from these games, but it was fun.

Bike Races

The majority of us had some kind of bicycle. We would set up courses and have races. Everyone would put up a prized sport card and the winner would take all. I had many great baseball and football cards, because I was fast on that bike I had.


Whether it was the swimming pool or a pond or lake, we spent many days and hours swimming. Swimming is great exercise and keeps kids out of their parent's hair.

The Other Games Children Played.

Yes, before computers, X boxes, Nintendo and others, children had games to play.

Lets look at some of the many games we played and how.

The first I will mention is an old game that we played a lot:

Kick The Can

You had teams. It was like hide and seek, but with added features. We had boundaries, and a jail that has near the overturned coffee or old paint can. One team would be the "it". The other team would run and hide within the boundaries while "it" counted to a predesignated number. "It" would have to catch the other team (tag them). One on the team being caught could attempt to "kick the can" and if it worked, all the teammates in prison were released. If the can just got tipped, only one member was released.

Run and Scream

A line is drawn and each child takes a turn. The child starts running and when they cross the line, they start screaming. A marker is placed where the child stops screaming to see who could scream the longest distance.



There are many versions of dominoes. It is a game you will see played all over here in Puerto Rico. Dominoes are a lot of fun. Below is a link to rules of different domino games.



As a boy, one of my favorite games was marbles. I had quite a collection of marbles. We would draw a circle on the playing area. Each player would have to put a designated amount of marbles in the circle. Each player would use a "shooter" marble to try and knock other marbles out of the circle in which the player could then keep.


While boys played marbles, many girls played jacks. It is a hard game to explain so I suggest watching the video on the right to learn. They explained it much better than I could.


This game is very old. Players would draw a diagram and the children would have to "hop" in certain patterns through it. There are many versions.


Jumping rope was great exercise. I know of kids who spent hours upon hours jumping rope. Much better exercise than pushing buttons on a computer.


What has happened to the world? Why aren't children out playing like children anymore? When I do see them, they are staring at Iphones or Ipads.


Send them out to play. Teach them some of the old time games. I am not saying to do away with the video games, but kids need sun and exercise. Get them out there.


There is a lot more to life than that game you are playing. Those games are not really giving you good, healthy exercise. Try something new and different. Go out and play; it is a nice day!

© 2014 Greg Boudonck


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    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Yes, you are correct. Games and tvs have become babysitters. Thanks for your input.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      I love the thought and effort you put into this. I played many of these games when I was a kid because, as you say, we didn't have computers or video games. I remember my mother chasing me out of house on the weekends because I watched too much TV. So my friends and I went bicycle riding to the park a lot. Even my own son spent more time playing different kinds of games than in front of the computer. His dad and I used to play card games or Monopoly with him and his friends.

      I think part of the problem today, too is that with both parents working, they don't invest enough time with their children. They are too tired, so they just let the TV or the X-box take care of them. Not all families are like that, but a good portion of them are.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      I am in total agreement to your input here parrster. It is the parents and/or guardians that are the ones who need to control.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 4 years ago from Australia

      There is a strong element of 'the path of least resistance' in human psychology, i.e. laziness. Humans don't need much encouraging to choose the easy over of the challenging. One of the few exceptions to this used to be where fun was involved. If it's fun, kids will exert themselves. However, today, fun as been made ultra easy.

      As we've learned, though, the path of least resistance is not without its consequences, none of them desirable and some of them downright harmful.

      Ultimately it is not the kid's that need to fix this problem, they're the most naive and prone to give into the weaker side of their human nature. It is parents that need to make some hard but important decisions for the sake of their kids.

      Voted up

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 4 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Thanks to both of you for your input.

      Yes, we worry about abductors and freaks, but the fact is, that has always been. It is the news that makes it more prevalent. If we teach our children where and how to be safe, they can be healthy, safe, and happy.

    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 4 years ago from Wisconsin

      I often wonder the same thing. As a child my sisters and I stayed outside all day everyday. We were out well after dark discovering, playing, and running around. We were safe, exercising, and having fun. There wasn't a fear of getting hurt or not returning home.

      Today I think the problem is parents do not encourage or make their children go outside. With the media and mass hysteria about abductors and abusers, parents don't feel it's safe for their children to be out alone. Instead they buy every new technology and plop their children in front of it in order to keep them busy and safe, rather than educating them.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bev and I have talked about this often. We will drive around town and rarely see kids out playing. My goodness, when we were kids you couldn't keep us inside. There was always a baseball or football game going on, and if nothing else was happening we were on our bikes exploring. Hard to believe so much has changed in fifty years.