The lifestyles of families and particularly children, are undergoing big changes in this grand technological era. While much of it is of great advantage, interesting and fun, exercise and activities in the fresh outdoor air is declining and often non-existent for some.
As a kid I couldn't finish supper quickly enough so that I could go outdoors to play softball in the vacant lot or join the street hockey out front. There were many near zero cost, fresh air activities like roasting marshmallows at the back of the lot or exploring the neighborhood with the other kids that were always out doing something. We did have the 'advantage' in that there was no TV!
There were an endless number of things to do and we seemed never to be bored; and it was pretty well all healthy. As we grew older there was fishing, hiking, camping, swimming, skiing and hockey using up our free time and none were very costly.
Much of these pastime memories have continue for many years. In the winter there was an outdoor rink one block from home where we skated and played hockey in the evenings. As the temperatures were often well below freezing we regularly made trips to the wooden shack where a pot bellied stove was humming. With our skates off we would rub our toes to ease the thawing as we chatted.
This kind of fun is still occurring in varied ways with families today, where they are able to, and inclined to make it happen. But it has also been made much more difficult. There are parents' busy days with work and commuting, so often required to maintain the 'in' lifestyle, for those that are tuned in to this very common trait in our society. Some sports can be an expensive part of children's healthy entertainment today, but there are activities out there requiring little or no expense. Meeting in the park or on the road with a neighbor family for casual chat or to kick the ball around, hiking or playing any outdoor game or working on a garden or other project with family can often be of no interest to many, yet such a valuable event going forward in life.
In the 40s we were also missing out on so much that is available today. We didn't have all these conveniences and technology, some of which are so wonderful, like the home computer. Having owned one for 25 years I would not want to do without.
Health wise perhaps some of the new wonders are not so wonderful, especially when the time that it consumes does not include exercise, learning, mixing with friends nor involve family time together. Being addicted to video games for example, does not add any value to one's life as this can gobble up hundreds of hours, but in small doses can be very entertaining.
Television is another story as the young, and old too, are often glued to the box for many hours a day. There are many drawbacks to watching stretched out programming that pumps commercials into the room telling us all about what we are missing and must have. Sadly many kids today may be stuck at home with this electronic companion.
As a parent, making an effort and setting an example of what the outdoors and nature has to offer can be such a valuable lifetime gift to the children.