Normally I do a huge eye roll when I hear people complaining about the “children of this generation”. I being a millenial myself, sometimes feel targeted by the criticism. The one everyone hears the most has to be that “kids don’t play outside anymore” or “all they do is play on their phones“. Until recently I had never really been around too many kids younger than middle school. I hadn’t gotten to experience the “terrible tragedy” of today’s youth. That was, until I agreed to put some family friends children on the bus every week…
The task was simple, watch two young boys for a little over an hour, once a week, until their school bus arrived. I was actually kind of excited. I love kids…or so I thought… I was ready to play outside, build stuff with Legos, maybe play a few games on the Xbox, or something of that sort. The boys were pretty young, one just barely in first grade and the other in third. I was ready to re-live the glorious days of having breakfast, lunch, and dinner made for you every day and then having all the time in the world to play, to run and draw with sidewalk chalk, and jump on the trampoline.
Apparently all of the things I just listed out above are outdated. That is not at all what happened. I arrived to their house and found the two boys in the living room. The youngest one had his face buried so close to an ipad that I though for sure he would lose some of his eyesight before the bus got here. The oldest one was on a mini laptop that was provided to him by his school. I walk closer towards the living room and give a hopeful, “hey guys!”. Neither one looked up from their game but I managed to get an unenthused “hi” from each of them. I sat on the couch next to the youngest one. I asked him what he was playing even though I could clearly see that it was minecraft. He ignored any questions I asked, because it takes lots of concentration on these games you know. I decided to bother the other one with my presence. He was playing a math game…but he wasn’t actually doing any math. He had the calculator pulled up on a different screen so he didn’t even have to answer any of the math questions in the game.
I didn’t want to feel or come off as hypocritical, because I remember spending hours on my nintendo DS as a child. I let them have their fun on their games until it was time to get on the bus. I was called back that evening to watch them after school for a little while. This time when I arrived one of their friends was over. The oldest one and the friend were sitting in a chair, again, playing on the mini laptop computer. And the youngest one, again, on his ipad. All were still playing the same games. The friend then gets a txt from his mom and says, “hey, my mom wants me to play outside for fifteen minutes before I go home“. I was thrilled! Finally, some real play time! But to my surprise, the oldest one let out a huge whine and says, ” what!? why!“. Of course, how dare we go outside when we have these mind numbing games to focus on!
The friend gets up and the oldest one finally closes his laptop. The two get ready to go outside….but the youngest one doesn’t move. I suggest he go outside too and he can even take his ipad (that was literally the only way to get him to go outside). We walk outside together and the weather is beautiful. It’s perfect “after school” playing weather. The oldest boy and the friend go jump on the trampoline…but the youngest one sits next to me on a bench and keeps his face on the ipad. “Hey how about we play with some chalk“, I basically beg. No deal. I observe as he acts completely unaware of what’s going on around him. Suddenly…the screen of the ipad goes black and a low battery symbol pops up! “Yes!“, I think to myself… now we can actually get some play time going on.
Before I can even utter a suggestion of what activity we can do now, the youngest one darts into the house faster than I can blink an eye. I run after him and yell, “hey what are you doing?“. I go to the front door and see him scrambling up the stairs like he’s about to pee himself or something. I think for a moment, maybe he just has to go to the bathroom really badly. I step inside and wait at the bottom of the stares. He returns with……an ipad charger.
This kid had me thinking he was going to come back down stairs in a fresh pare of shorts from wetting himself, but the speed was simply for the sake of a dead ipad! The rest of the night went about the same as the morning had gone. I never thought I would get bored watching two young boys!
I don’t want to be that person but… the kids of today, can you believe them? All they do is play on their electronics and they never want to play outside anymore. *Pulls out my phone and browses Facebook for hours*