If you were to look at my Christmas list when I was 8, Barbies, Beanie Babies, and board games topped my wants for the year. Plenty of my friends would pepper their list of traditional toys with desires for the latest Playstation or Gameboy. For an 8 year old today, it’s a whole different world. Born with computers in their tiny laps, cell phones and Wii’s have overshadowed the unsophisticated manual play of dolls and make believe. Kids of the 2000s see the world through a touch screen, and honestly, I think they’re missing out.
I may talk like I’m a 50-something comparing the “good ol’ days” to the modern world, but don’t get me wrong; my mere 20 years contrast strongly with the even shorter lives of today’s elementary schoolers. No, I don’t have any little siblings, but it doesn’t take a very astute mind to find children a couple years shy of puberty wielding cell phones and iPods to be an oddity. The contemporary youngsters of each decade always embrace the latest and greatest in gadgets and toys, for better (think “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego”) or for worse (think Furbies, and I know I’m not the only one to still have those irritating things hiding in my basement). But just 15 years ago, things were a little…simpler.
Yes, I realize that we – the current group that populates undergrad university life – are not so far removed from the age of the iPod. Technology infiltrated our lives at a young age but all in all, when my friends and I played in our earliest years, we were creating, imagining, making up stories and games. I can’t help but wonder about the imaginations of kids born in the next decade. Video games leave little up to the imagination, and even if you’re a pro at Wii bowling, it says nothing for your actual bowling skills. For kids of the ‘90s, technology felt like a supplement to our every day lives, not the crux of our existence as it is today, and has been for the entire lives of the 2000s babies.
Just think about the things today’s tots are deprived of, and the ways in which their lives differ from our childhoods. Why have your parents call up for a playdate when they can just send a Facebook chat message? In the ‘90s, writing letters and thank you notes was proper decorum after your birthday party. In a few years, will it even be possible to convince a child Santa Claus is real when kids will be consulting Google before their parents? If we’re thinking about entertainment, the technology of animation today has created some of the ugliest cartoon characters I’ve ever seen. Turn on any kid’s program, and it doesn’t even come close to the visual elegance Disney brought us in the ‘90s. And let’s face it, nothing is better than playing outside in the fresh air, riding bikes and playing soccer. You just can’t get that if you’re sitting on a couch in front of a computer.
How the 2000s kids will fare has yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure. At least they have YouTube to catch an episode or two of Boy Meets World.