Practical Advice in an Impractical Society
Have children changed?
“Kids have changed.” We have heard this statement repeatedly from educators, parents, and the media. However, in reality, kids haven’t changed; society, parents, and schools have changed. These changes have transformed the way our children play, interact, and learn. Fluctuations in social and educational norms have created issues beyond poor behavior in children. We have raised a generation of socially, cognitively, and physically underdeveloped children, leaving parents and teachers struggling to find solutions.
The United States faces an epidemic of unparalleled proportions. The social concerns that must be addressed to help our children have three primary causes: abuse of technology, aversion to risk, and a decline in physical activity.
1. Abuse of Technology: Lev Vygotsky, theorist, teacher, and psychologist, stated that we learn through a cultural lens. Learning takes place through interactions with others. Children, therefore, must interact with other people and the environment around them in order to grow and develop into productive citizens. However, because of technology they are increasingly isolated from the world outside, relying on video games and TV to provide them with their social rules and norms.
2. Risk-Aversion: Risk taking is limited or non-existent when you are not interacting with others. With adults scheduling almost every aspect of their day, school-age children are not given chances to simply play and make up their own games. They have little free time to just be kids and the free time they have is often spent in front of the TV or computer. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, there is a direct correlation between reading and risk-taking. Reading out loud means you are opening yourself to possibly be ridiculed or embarrassed. Children who never risk being vulnerable have a difficult time becoming fluent readers.
Risk has also been eliminated from our playgrounds. In the name of safety, the slides, swings, and merry-go-rounds of the past are gone. These items provided children with the chances to practice appropriate risk taking. Children could successfully navigate the “risky” playground equipment, gaining self-confidence and courage.
3. Physical Inactivity: