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Families of the Electronic Age

Updated on October 6, 2011

Family Time Together

Grand-mom visiting to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.
Grand-mom visiting to have Thanksgiving dinner with us.
A family portrait with my parents and siblings.
A family portrait with my parents and siblings.
My kids using their imagination playing Cowboys and Indians.
My kids using their imagination playing Cowboys and Indians.
My grand-parents with their children in a family portrait.
My grand-parents with their children in a family portrait.

What ever happened to...

What ever happened to the days when family spent time together? They didn't have or make up excuses not to find time to spend with family. As a child growing up I remember having dinner around the kitchen table every day as a family. Us kids came home from school and mom and dad came home from work and the night began. Mom would start making supper while us kids did our homework and then if time permitted we went outside to play before supper. If not, tomorrow was another day. During the summer when we did not have school work, we were outside most of the day playing baseball with makeshift bases, and a team of 4 or 5 kids on one side and maybe one more or less on the other side. It was rare that we had enough kids to play equal sides but we made due with a ghost man. That's right, a ghost man. Today kids couldn't even fathom what is meant by that term.

We didn't have cell phones or computers. Cell phones weren't heard of and computers filled up an entire room so the thought of having one in your home was a joke. We did not have cable, VCRs, DVDs, Video Games, or any other cool electronic equipment or toys like today's kids are growing up with. My parents would look at us and ask what we were doing inside? Unless we had chores to do or were sick, we did not stay inside. You got out and played with the other kids in the neighborhood, or with your sisters and brothers. We used our imagination and made up games to play or we went on explorations through the fields or the woods as we pretended that we were mountain men, or an explorer, or just hiding from the other kids. We would ride our bikes which were 20 years old but the best to us. We never had a brand new bike but our old ones out lasted the new ones that other kids were getting. It could have been better quality, but I believe it was because we were taught to take good care of our things or we would go with out and not get another one.

Growing up we had to learn to do our chores before we could go out to play, or enjoy a treat of having a snack later in the evening. If we refused to do a chore, you got your behind cracked. Sometimes that was with the bare hand, a belt, or a paddle. It hurt but we were never injured (except for our pride). You learned that in order not to feel a little pain or be humiliated, you wised up and did what you were told. The chores we had to do were things like, dishes; (that's right we didn't have a dish washer either) laundry, which consisted of hanging it outside because we were lucky to have a washing machine, we were not lucky enough to have a dryer. We had to do cleaning which included dusting, vacuuming floors, wet mop and then wax the kitchen floor and the bathroom floors. Clean the toilets, take the trash out and make sure your room was clean. We did not sit all day playing on a computer, or talking on a cell phone, texting, or sexting! When we did our homework and had a report to do, we actually had to go to the library and sign out books to do our research. We had to write it all by hand and not print it; it had to be in cursive writing. Most kids don't learn how to write cursive today and they surely don't learn how to do research in the library.

As a reader of this article, don't misunderstand my point. I am not condemning computers, cellphones, or any other new technology. My point is that I believe that kids are being too dependent on them and are not learning the basics in life. They are not learning how to do math without using a calculator or a computer. They are not learning how to build social skills by not going outside and playing with other kids. They are learning virtual social skills which are only good when you are on the computer. When you need to meet people in the real world, interview for a job, or need to socially interact with co-workers the skills are not there. They simply were never learned.

Children are not being taken out in public by the parents anymore because the parents are partially the problem as well as part victim. Young parents today were at the start of the changes to the electronic world. Today many of those new parents don't have the skills to teach their kids proper social skills so they fear what might happen in public if they take the kids with them. Instead they get a sitter or do not go out with them to a restaurant or to visit friends etc.

Kids on the other hand spend hours per day inside the home playing games on the computer or stuck to their cell phones, Most kids today would not have a clue what to do if they did not have the computer or a cell phone to play with.

I believe we are hurting kids by not making them interact with other kids to learn how to interact socially, to learn how to think for themselves instead of having an electronic device to do the thinking. We are not letting kids use their imagination so they can work out problems, or create things. Eventually if not already we are hurting our future as a country and the future of our children on a personal level. I recommend that kids are limited to the time that they spend each day on the computer. They do not need cell phones as a young child. If they need to call a friend to see if they are home before walking to that friends house, they can use a parent's cell phone. If a parent finds the need to give their child a phone (and there are some good reasons) then the child should be limited to when the phone can be used. Our kids need to be outside interacting with other children using their imaginations. Parents should start doing the same thing so they can start learning better social skills, and even open up their imagination again. Start having regular meals as a family at the kitchen table with no cell phones, or computers. Make the kids do chores before having the privilege of playing on a computer. Make our kids think for themselves before solving a problem for them. Make the family unit the strongest unit they know. Give them the best chance that they can get to compete in this world socially and effectively so they can succeed in life.


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