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Why Childhood Should be Simple

Updated on April 5, 2015

The Good Ol' Days

Seven in the morning was my typical wake up time as a kid: I had crucial engagements to attend to! I would pull on my OshKosh overalls, yank on my sneakers, blast through my Cheerios and I was bolting out the door. Because of all the kids in the neighborhood, my grandma's house was the place to be. She and my papa lived in a picture-perfect neighborhood complete with porch swings, climbable mulberry trees, and at least one kid per house.

One of my most treasured memories I have from that neighborhood was when my cousin and I went from house to house rounding up as many kids as possible for a game of kickball. We must have gathered 20 or more kids, both boys and girls, ranging from six to thirteen. And we all had one thing in common: we just wanted to play. Laughter filled the streets, scraped knees and elbows were passed around like chewing gum, and the sun was slowly making its downward trek, illuminating the horizon with shades of pink.

Most of us had to persuade our parents to let us skip dinner, as finishing our game was of the utmost importance to our young souls. As the evening carried on, our guiltless conviction to keep the laughter alive engraved deeper within us; and the roots of lasting friendships began to place avid holds on our hearts. The sun was setting, the air was cooling, and lightening bugs lit up our world. Reflecting back on my childhood, it was evenings such as this one that were so fundamental to the prosperity of my soul and the construction of my character.


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A Simple Childhood

Being able to play, share, fight and forgive as children is so essential, so vital to our development as social humans. Looking back at the actions and motives of us kids, I realize just how simple-minded we were. As children, we lived in the “here and now.” The few times we ever thought more than a day into the future was if there was a birthday party to go to, Christmas was near, or if a vacation was fast approaching.

We accepted fallout, loss, and defeat with an “I just need to shake this off and everything will be okay again” mentality. We did not judge, contemplate to the point of exhaustion, or hold grudges for more than an hour. We were kids! We played in the dirt, ate things we shouldn't have, forgot as quickly as we forgave, and most importantly, learned naturally how to communicate with others.

Today’s world is quite different from what I remember as a child. When I occasionally drive through the neighborhood I grew up in, I notice that something is missing: children playing outside. The days of backyard kickball games, baseball in the street, and hopscotch-filled sidewalks seem to be long gone.

While some parents still bring up their children the good-old-fashioned way, many are not – it is as if many of us have forgotten how to. Technology seems to have erased that nostalgia of our childhood, that reminiscent feeling that helps us remember why we should pass it along to our children - to hand down to them a childhood of beautiful simplicity.


Fast Moving World

Today’s world is fast. Every other week a new phone is launched, a new update frustrates the many inhabitants of Facebook, and the living room television grows another five inches. The pace of society is increasing, and children are forced to keep up.

While visiting some friends at a coffee shop the other day, I noticed a small child playing with a smart phone. Immediately, I figured that it was his parents' - that is until I saw that they had their own phones. Because of my curious nature, I glanced back at the child a few times and noticed how involved he was with his smart phone - I assumed he was playing a game of some kind.

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A new study from Boston Medical Center reveals that parents who get absorbed by email, games or other apps have more negative interactions with their children.
A new study from Boston Medical Center reveals that parents who get absorbed by email, games or other apps have more negative interactions with their children. | Source

When I was seven years old, the only technology I carried around with me was the five-dollar calculator in my backpack. While technology does have its useful place in society, does a small child need to be introduced to it at such a young age? Or rather, should technology be replaced with genuine human-to-human interaction?

Simple Ways to Let Kids Be Kids

Here are some things I remember doing as a kid.

  • Lemonade stands - kids learn the value of a dollar, and they learn how to interact with others.
  • Neighborhood ball games - learn healthy competition, and learn to accept defeat. All while forming bonds.
  • Trips to the park
  • Build forts
  • Hide and seek
  • Help mom or grandma bake cookies - Learn how to appreciate others' help
  • Help dad or grandpa build something - My grandpa built a wooden swing-set in the backyard and he let me help. I will never forget that.
  • Summer camp - The best opportunity to gain confidence and learn how to trust and interact with others. Many organizations like the YMCA and churches will help pay for your child to attend if you cannot afford it

Kids should be outside playing! That is what childhood is all about.
Kids should be outside playing! That is what childhood is all about. | Source

What Is Truly Important

Some parents will argue, justifiably, that today’s world is not as safe as it was in the past to allow their children to go outside and play without supervision. And while that argument does hold some weight, that doesn't mean kids should be resorted to constant video games, computers, or television.

Children need movement, interaction, and challenges. I will forever treasure the engaging activities of my childhood like neighborhood games, hiking, camping, fishing, and gardening with my grandma - just to name a few. Those activities helped shape who I am – a social human. Children who are face-planted into Xbox or social-networking sites for hours each day are not learning how to communicate and interact with other children in a normal medium. Real life is face to face, not face to computer screen.

While entirely cutting out the latest technology in exchange for old ways is impossible, we can find middle ground – a happy medium. Evolution is a part of life and a constantly changing world is something we all must accept. But as with everything, moderation is key.

Let us look back and remember the simplicity of life, when knocking that kickball out of the park and scoring a homerun is what we went to bed smiling about. Let’s give that to our children. They deserve it.

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Do you think children today are missing out on valuable experiences that we had when we were younger?

See results

© 2012 Marissa D. Carnahan

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! Bravo for your message, and bravo for the new look on your hubs. You are a quick learner for sure. :)

      I love this message and I completely agree. Our neighborhood at at least fifteen kids, and we were outside constantly. We learned community in that neighborhood. We learned how to interact with others, and yes, we learned our pecking order. Invaluable training for when we became adults.

      Wonderful insights Marissa!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      I agree totally with this Marissa, I grew up in a very similar way, playing outside till late on those summer nights. Went to school on my bike or walked, watched TV but only part of the time and generally learned how to be part of society. The place I currently live, is a rented room in a townhouse. The lady that I rent from has kids aged 11, 14 and 15 living at home. She and they all have iphones, ipads, bigscreen ty with the xbox....

      All they ever do is play with those electronic devices, watch the most horrible, violent movies and play the violent shooting/killing games. It is sad to watch her living this way and teaching her kids to live this way.

      Mark

    • profile image

      ConstableChemE 4 years ago

      I found your observation about smartphones to be particularly acute and prescient. This is an issue not just with our youth, but with adults of all ages as well. I have lost count of how many times I have been out to eat with friends/family/acquaintances (ranging from my own age to 30+ years older than me) and have had to battle with someone's phone to get their attention. I've been subjected to 5 minute periods where every single person at the table was messing around on their phone and did not say a single word to any of the 5 people who were less than 5' from them. I've even seen a guy take a picture out of the 95th floor of the Hancock Building in Chicago without even stopping to witness the stunning view in person...just walked right up to the window, pointed and snapped, and walked right away, presumably to upload that picture right to Facebook just so everyone else knew that he saw it.

      It's tough to remember the last "must have toy" that was so embraced by adults as well as kids. While I concede that smartphones aren't "toys" per se, 99% of their usage has nothing to do with the functions of an actual phone. Oftentimes children want the same cool stuff that Mommy and Daddy have and that's what makes the scenario you presented of the parents and the kid entranced by their own phones troubling, if not unsurprising. I'm not saying that we have to go back to the days of that "stick with giant wooden hoop" method of entertainment, but a little living in the present with the people right in front of you might be nice.

      Fantastic and well written article, just like the other two: keep up the good work! Just goes to show that wisdom and youth are not always mutually exclusive...

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      I absolutely agree that childhood as we knew it (I grew up in the 50s and 60s) has disappeared, and it is a tragedy. The only place where I differ from you is where you say it may be a less safe world. I don't even believe it is. The media has inflated the examples of danger to such a degree that it has become a complete hysteria. One missing child-- awful though that is-- does not a trend make, but that is the widespread belief among parents and many other adults. I find it interesting that Mexico, where I live part of the year (and much like childhood, a place where Americans due to media-induced hysteria, think is filled with danger), children still get to be children. They don't know how lucky they are, just as we didn't. This is very well-written, and I look forward to reading more. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • ienjoythis profile image
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      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Bill, thanks for reading and sharing your insight as well. And thanks for your outside help :) !!

      Mark, what you described to me is absolutely true and quite prevalent in my area as well. It is as if too many people are fulfilling their interaction needs by using social-networking and the like instead of genuine human to human communication. I am already seeing this, but just you wait... down the road, people are not going to know how to communicate effectively with one another because they grew up communicating through computers and whatnot. Holding intellectual conversations will be a thing of the past.

      Louisa, I do agree with your point about the media inflating the "danger" of society nowadays. And the Hispanic culture is very family orientated. They let their children be children and their values are admirable most definitely.

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 4 years ago

      "Let us look back and remember the simplicity of life" - this sentence, which by the way I just borrowed from you :-), says it all! Sometimes I just can't believe how much changed since I was a kid, like I was living in a different world before.

      You have an easy way with pen, ienjoythis! Voted up, of course!

    • ienjoythis profile image
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      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Monis, thank you very much. And you're absolutely right: a lot has changed over the years. Some good, but a lot of bad. All we can do is share as much about the past as we can and hope people want that back.

    • LifeisLovely profile image

      Megan 4 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      Great hub, even though it is dangerous to leave your children unattended. Parents could always take them out for a couple hours. How great would it be as an adult to put down the phone or computer also to just get outside and share those childhood memories while making new ones with your children. Well voted up, interesting, and following.

    • ienjoythis profile image
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      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Megan, thank you. What you have said is true: it would be quite nice if more parents would join in on their children's adolescence while they can. Childhood is the best time to bond and instill admirable character.

    • LifeisLovely profile image

      Megan 4 years ago from Clearwater, Florida

      Yes, it seems technology has taken over so much in our daily lives. I always enjoyed when I would go to my grandpa's and he would tell me what they did for entertainment back when he was a child in the forties. I think if technology ever crashed future generations will not know what to do with themselves.

    • ienjoythis profile image
      Author

      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      I completely agree with you, Megan. Future generations will be more focused on technology rather than other people; it will drastically change the dynamics of human relationships.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey young lady; just checking in to see how you are doing. Haven't seen anything new from you recently, and I don't like losing touch of good writers. :) Hope all is well!

      bill

    • ienjoythis profile image
      Author

      Marissa D. Carnahan 4 years ago from Nevada

      Hello, Bill! I'm doing well. I've just been extremely busy and about to be even more so. Classes start today; so for the next fifteen weeks I will be taking 12 credit hours for school and working full-time. My social life is about to slip out the window :)

      -Marissa

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 3 years ago from San Diego, California

      I agree. It's so much different these days than when I was a kid. Kids don't play en mass at the park, like you were talking about, and they don't do a whole lot of social anything. Everything's about technology. It's really sad.

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