Go Outside and Play

By Dennis “DJ” Mikolay

The American people have always liked to be frightened; viewers flock to horror movies in droves, consumers gobble up stories of the latest grizzly tragedies in supermarket tabloids, and gory crime-related television shows have consistently drawn stellar ratings. As Americans become increasingly exposed to the darker side of human nature, however, their own paranoia has begun to manifest in society as a whole.

As a result, the American childhood experience has become obsolete. No longer are children allowed to walk to their friends’ homes without parental supervision. Plastic toys, once utilized by imaginative children around the country during harmless games, are now considered taboo. Dodge ball, most likely the only fun game ever played in gym class, is almost universally banned in American schools because it “encourages violence.”

Video games are labeled with an age rating, restricting the amount of “questionable content” that any individual child can be exposed to.  Music is branded with ugly “Parental Advisory” labels to assure that innocent ears won’t be corrupted by the lyrics of artists like Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson. After-all, it doesn’t matter how loving a home they come from, any child could be one song or one game away from becoming the next Dylan Klebold.

The once immortal bus stop has also fallen victim to such over-reaching parental controls. School buses now deliver children directly to their homes, lest a predator or degenerate come in contact with them during their commute. The morning conversations between young peers waiting for the bus are now a thing of the past, as are metal lunch boxes (deadly weapons), Halloween masks (sinister disguises), and playgrounds (death traps).

The daily lives of modern children are certainly less exciting than those experienced by the youth of the past.

Over the past two decades, American parents have climbed to frighteningly high levels of paranoia. Not even during the 1990s, at the height of the so-called “Satanic Panic,” when far-right evangelists convinced the mainstream media that Lucifer’s disciples were hiding behind every corner, were parents so overly protective of their children.

There are those, however, that rationalize these newfound precautions as being vital to the survival of our young. There are parents who argue that murderers, drug dealers, and child predators are a recent phenomena, one that was alien during the innocent age extolled by nostalgic grandparents across the country.

Thus, while the children in years gone by could live their lives to the fullest, wholly unafraid of their neighbors, contemporary children must be protected from the dozens of faceless bogeymen who seek to destroy their innocence.

The truth of the matter is there is no viable justification for this increase in paranoia.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t evil people in the world; however, such individuals have existed since the dawn of time. These folks certainly walked the streets when our grandparents and their offspring came of age (simply research “Albert Fish” for proof of that fact). The difference was the media didn’t exploit them to the same degree they do today.

Thus, whereas there were various perils out there, parents were not led to believe that such actions were widespread. If a murder was committed in the 1920s, it was merely reported; today it is romanticized, published, and marketed. All of a sudden, parents are led to believe that murders are sweeping across their neighborhoods; the fences go up, window shades go down, and the front door is locked.

Parents should obviously watch their children and nurture them so they grow to their fullest potential in a safe and loving environment. The problem is that by taking these protective instincts to drastic extremes parents have begun hindering the social development of their young.

Our high schools and colleges are already full of students who lack any real world experience, street smarts, or sound judgment. Since the role of assessing the dangers of various situations and the intentions of the personalities involved had always fallen explicitly on the shoulders of the parents, these students are constantly unable to handle themselves. They may be biological adults, but their upbringing has rendered them cognitive children.

It is time for a return to sanity. Parents need to reflect on the Golden Age of the American childhood and examine the events, trials, and tribulations that helped characterize their formative years.  They must realize that children have to operate within a real-world environment if they are ever to mature into adults. Consistent societal protectionism will only deter their natural development.

Too many potentially brilliant children have been lost amidst this sea of paranoia. It is time for parents to open the front door and allow their children to go play.

 

This entry was posted in The Populist Approach, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Go Outside and Play

  1. Wild Bunch says:

    I agree that parents are becoming more overprotective of their children. I also agree that paranoia has increased in the past years. But I do not believe the American childhood experience is becoming obsolete. I believe it has merely evolved and we will need to adjust to it.

    It is awesome being in America. Where else can you find a large number of kids in middle school with smart phones, laptops, iPads, iPods and Xbox’s (among other stuff)? When I was in middle school, I didn’t have all that and that was only less than a decade ago. We are in the dynamic age of technology and this next generation of kids are experiencing it all. Technology is getting better and cheaper and these kids are the guinea pigs. The “real world” is about to become different for these kids then our “real world”.

    These kids don’t have the memorable TV shows and trends of the 90’s and even dodgeball among other items of nostalgia to us (that was our childhood) but they have the ‘current version’ of those. They have the internet, video games (more focus on online gaming), and more that we didn’t have (this is their childhood).

    The age of technology does bring about new dangers to us (craigslist killers, facebook stalkers/rapists, and other crazy cyber-involved crimes), but it does bring about innovations such as YouTube, Social Networking and even the ability for anyone to easily start a blog. Recent trends in big political elections involve focus on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube because that’s where everyone’s at. I also believe in recent years, there has been an increase in young voters due to all this advertising and campaigning.

    Advances in technology can let parents track down their children to the exact location with GPS through their cell phones and the criminal justice field has seen change over the years due to new technological applications in Forensics and Law enforcement which has made crime slightly… more manageble to handle and solve. Job hunting now becomes high tech as well. Computer skills become a must and Facebook can become the difference between getting a job or not because of questionable pictures/content. Heck a lot of people do that online job hunting nowadays too on like craigslist and stuff.

    Kids will always be kids, and they will grow up. Childhood experiences have changed through the generations. These kids may not get the same real world experience as we did, but with the advent of the age of technology, the real world now is a lot different than it was. I believe these kids will become the adults you mentioned with a good amount of real world experience, street smarts and sound judgment. They’ll just be doing it differently.

    -JL

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