Yesterday, my four year old came running to me proudly announcing he had crossed level 108 playing Candy Crush. It should have been a proud moment for me, for I never even got past the first few. But it wasn’t. A quick math leads me to believe that he would have spent at least 60 hours of this beautiful little phase of life we call childhood.
My father would always be very proud of me for the same thing when I was this young. Heck he would even invite his friends over just to “show uncle how you play that game”. Uncles, would watch in amazement as I would take on each boss in Mario. Some would even ask me to teach their own kids, as they “do nothing else but while away time, playing random games in the streets”.
Let’s set this straight, I am not jealous of my son. This is more of a self disappointment. I couldn’t (and probably never will) be able to give him the kind of childhood I had, the one my father gave me.
Our childhood was rough. Not the “abusive-family” rough but we belonged to a neighborhood that had exposure to real sports. It involved playing games in the streets, falling down, bruising yourself, fighting, crying, patching up, and falling and bruising again. We’d get home black and blue and make up stories, whatever we thought our moms would buy.
That is why, I have always been a proponent of letting the kids out in the open. Those tiny bodies need that to develop, their brains need to solve real problems as they arise, sometimes for survival. Like avoiding that ball headed right towards your eye or just being alert enough to avoid breaking a limb. Sometimes failing, sometimes winning and going home at dawn with an accomplished feeling. The that tiring sore pain was sure to give a good night’s sleep.
These kids don’t have those benefits.
I’m concerned also, as I find my son stuck to products created to make us adults feel good about themselves, maybe take their mind off life’s complexities, to unwind. This is a sort of addiction, to the apps and games designed specifically to snatch from him the period of life we all yearn to go back to. And that’s just the beginning. It is the troubling knowledge of the fact that the people who designed these games understand my son’s psychology better than I do. This worries me!
As human beings, we have come a long way from the cave-dwelling specie we once used to be. We got our fight or flight reflexes from that. Flat, lean feet enabled us to be quick enough to run away from wild threats. After all, we had already figured we’d be much faster on two feet instead of four limbs like every other animal around us was used to.
This was our past. We are still evolving, so here’s my attempt to figure what the generations to come would look like. It left me nervous. Bulging, myopic sight, tired of focusing on five and a half inch screens. Thumbs as thin as stylus improved over time to click better and faster. Ears incapable of hearing anything not coming through in-ear headphones. Weak bones and body structure from the lack of physical movement. We already have a hard time keeping up with nutrition and healthy diets. I can’t even imagine what it’d be like for them.
My son is around a decade away from having any meaningful conversations with the opposite gender. But he has already adopted the selfie culture, they can’t just take a pic with a straight smiling face anymore!
Maybe I am just being paranoid, or harsh. It’s thought provoking though, more geeks are coming out now than ever. Thins could even be a good thing.
But I call upon, and would kill for an idea, that puts kids back to where they belong — the playgrounds. I announce today that I will personally back and use all my resources to make such a project successful, so it reaches to the masses. Our kids may not be thankful for this today, but they’ll come around, they’re kids after all.
An idea, a startup, a game, anything. Something that will motivate these tiny ones to put their tablets/phones/phablets/screens away and sweat it out in the grounds. So they rely on their food for energy, not on external validation from others. So fathers like me can teach them a thing or two about football.
So families can once again bond over board-games on Sundays. Days where privileges and gifts were achievement-based. You had to work to get that bicycle/video game.
I am looking for a carrot red enough to lure him out of the house. Somebody who will do something better with my son’s attention and not just channel it for personal benefit.
I’d love to play a pivotal role in taking such an idea to the masses. This is an appeal to everyone who’s working on such an idea. Come forth, let’s make their lives better!