Is Modern Technology Killing Off Childhood?

Kids, what’s the matter with kids today. Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way…

When I was young I used to hate it when older people said things such as “back in my day” and “when we were young”. Now I’m (much) older, I find myself making those same annoying utterances.

It’s true that children today amuse themselves in very different ways to past generations. When I was a lad (see, there I go again), the vast majority of our leisure time was spent outdoors; playing cowboys and indians, building and racing billy carts – “billy carts”, is that a universal name or unique to Australia? Anyway, just in case, here’s an image.

classic billy cart
classic billy cart

We boys used to raid the local tip for old pram wheels which included ball bearing races and, let me tell you, when fitted to a billy cart those things could fly. We raced our billy carts down one hill in particular which finished with a sharp left turn at the bottom and a lake straight ahead. The choices were basically either skinned knees trying to navigate the sharp bend or a watery demise. Great fun!

These days, it’s all about electronic devices, videos and video games, and very little to do with imagination.

I’ve had a lot to do with kids over the years – as well as coaching junior football for a long time I’ve been fortunate enough to raise four kids of my own and now enjoy the experience of sharing time with some 13 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Are they any different to what we were? No, not on your life.

It’s true that with today’s technology and advanced communications kids seem to grow up faster, the age of innocence being somewhat shorter than it used to be, but, essentially, kids are kids, always have been and always will be.

I remember once during my football coaching career taking on a group of 14 and 15 year olds. They were certainly a wild bunch but honestly, deep down, no different to how my generation was at that age. When you got to know them, they were actually a delightful group of boys and I am still friends with many of them to this day.

The family that plays together stays together – outside or inside

family-1There is no doubting that technology has irreversibly changed the ways in which children entertain themselves, whether for the better or the worse is open to debate. Personally, I believe the onus remains largely on the shoulders of parents and, provided they are prepared to put in the time, show the love and teach right from wrong, it doesn’t really matter how children spend their leisure time.

I’ll leave you with the following video clip (which is actually an ad) showing different generations of families talking about what they did (or do) as kids for fun:

Do today’s kids spend too much time looking at screens, should they spend more time smelling the roses, what do you think?


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8 thoughts on “Is Modern Technology Killing Off Childhood?”

  1. Excellent topic as always and sadly YES. Seems children today loose themselves in themselves, as opposed to each other, Mindblower!

  2. Spent the day with the 8 yo grandson recently .His family were staying here for a short holiday. His 2 sisters were taken down to the Gold Coast theme parks.(movie world ,wet & wild etc)
    He stayed with me and watched minecraft movies most of the day on his laptop. I played more serious sims on the PC …not sure who was worse?

  3. “When I was young” or “back in my day”, I spent whole days playing with neighbourhood kids during school holidays. That included walking, riding, skating, football, cricket, tree climbing, and lots more.

    Unfortunately, if today’s kids play outdoors their parents may get arrested for leaving them “unsupervised”.

    PS: I recognize your “billy carts”, but we called them “go carts”.

  4. Hi Jim, ‘billy carts’ is probably Australian, they are trollies or soap boxes, and probably have other names in other parts of Blighty, where I live. Never mind the name, making and using them was sheer pleasure. The skinned knees and elbows were part of the fun! Kids these days are too sheltered. Elf and safety and all that. My mate is involved with the Scouting movement and he wanted to take some 18 t0 20 year olds sailing on his yacht. They are Sea Scouts. The hoops he had to go through and the certificates he needed to take them out for a day of two was a joke. He has been sailing for over 50 years! No wonder youngsters play computer games!

    1. Yep, that wonderful organization known as “elf and safety” is nothing but a bl**dy nuisance here too Blacksmith. A little power… well, you know the rest.

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