Can Kids Still Be Entertained?
With an abundance of options, can kids ever really be entertained by anything?
How do you entertain the kid who has seen and done everything?
It’s a tough question but a real concern for parents these days.
The idea of “kids’ entertainment” takes on a whole new perspective in the digital age. For those who have grown up in an age of video games, iPads and Google, the idea of being entertained is much different from that of their parents.
Part of the problem is the fact that what’s considered “entertainment” has changed considerably over the years. Gone are the days where the choices were few and far between: a movie on a Saturday afternoon, a local fair, a playdate. Nowadays, the entertainment choices that kids have are mind-boggling, all due to progress and technology. The digital age has indeed changed the playing field – literally – as kids are choosing video games over volleyball (or other outdoor sports, for that matter) and real-life.
What’s a parent to do?
Because of the prevalence of options out there, kids almost have too much choice. It’s a big old digital world out there and the possibilities are endless. Why go outside and play when one can create their own playground – and friends – digitally?
“Why go outside and play when one can create their own playground – and friends – digitally?”
The bar has been set fairly high in the last 10 years or so, and the old standby options for kids’ play are up against digital contenders that make an afternoon at the park seem pedestrian at best. Whether it’s choosing a movie from an extensive digital collection to watch on our large-screen TVs, or simulating downhill skiing in the Alps with Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality, a child’s expectations are much more sophisticated and extensive than ever before.
Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned play? The news that Toys R Us had filed for bankruptcy was, sadly, not surprising. For those of us who’d been navigating the crazy world of parenting in today’s digital age, the writing had been on the wall for some time.
Part of the problem is that we as parents have benefited from they myriad of digital entertainment choices that are available to our kids. We have given them the tools to play, grateful that the latest technological gadgets have provided us with a few moments of peace. Why throw the baseball with your child when they can play baseball with a whole team – digitally, of course? Why build a fort in the backyard when you can build a kingdom over the ether?
We’re busy. We’re tired. We’re stressed out and frazzled. And in our haste to find a few moments of peace in our own frenetic worlds, we have passed on to our children the idea that activities that require any semblance of energy are optional. The alternative? A digital one. One that keeps them quiet and out of our hair.
If we convey to our children that something as simple as kicking around a soccer ball is not only “low-tech” but more effort than it’s worth, they’ll follow our lead and download yet another video game.
Is a return to old-fashioned play coming?
Recent calls to return to our parental roots and engage in old-fashioned play seem to echo a growing concern about this reality. Increasing outdoor and conventional play time in the digital age may also warrant more extreme measures for our addicted kids, including limiting screen time and in some cases getting rid of the tech tools altogether. A scary proposition which may require some of us to actually take the time ourselves to turn off our smartphones and put down our tablets.
As much as we enjoy the fact that technology has given us choices in how we entertain our children, perhaps we need to step back and reassess how much we’ve allowed this same technology to take the place of more simple pursuits – ones that allow us to bond with our kids the way no video game or app can. At the end of the day, a pixel can’t and shouldn’t replace a playdate, even in the most modern of times.
Can kids still be entertained without the use of technology? What do you think? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Is your refrigerator running?”joke was how kids had fun before the digital age. Prank phone calls were all the rage before digital technology changed everything Click. Sound familiar? If you , like I, grew up in a time that predated call display and other buzz kills, you know this conversation intimately well.
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