Have you noticed young children playing on smartphones and tablets? I can say I have, plenty of times. Just visit a restaurant and take note of the families around you-there will be at least three young children with a piece of technology in their hand. It’s the way of the world these days-children have grown up in a tech hub.
Gone are the days where children choose playing outside over watching a show or playing a game, on their tablet or smartphone. Parents these days are more than happy to have them kept occupied by a device, than by climbing trees and digging in the sand.
We could attribute this to anything-crime, parents not having the time to watch over them, safety reasons or the expense that comes with dirty, broken clothes. Whatever the reasons, it could, in fact, be turning the new-age children into complete zombies, that live in a fictitious world.
Think of virtual reality glasses; these intelligent devices aren’t just your usual glasses, they are fixed with small video cameras that display high-frequency visuals and graphics, and make one feel like they are physically ‘in’ the game or movie. It’s so realistic that it may be difficult to realize that you’re not experiencing real life, but rather a fictitious, programmed actuality. The same goes for children that are hooked to smartphones- they start depending on the device, and the programmed reality that’s offered to them; it’s never been easier to sit back and have a device do it all for you; the need for organic imagination is completely stripped from them, and they are left mesmerized by the capacity and abilities of this tangible object. That is why it starts taking priority-because these tech gadgets can do so much more, while offering instant satisfaction, without any input from their side. If you look at the world of E-Sports and how it’s generated a massive following, almost overnight, it’s easy to see how the youth have powered the movement, as they’re becoming more and more interested in online games and virtual activities. Traditional games, however, require patience and imagination, which sadly today’s kids lack, and they find it challenging to engage in any form of activity that doesn’t involve elements of technology.
So, what are the pros and cons to using tech gadgets, when it comes to the development of children?
Well, it goes without saying that if children are hooked to virtual reality devices, for example, that display acts of violence within the games, and make the child part of that violence, then, of course, it’s going to influence the child very negatively, and could potentially cause major issues down the line. Users have explained that the experience feels so real, that one’s heart rate and anxiety can increase, due to the frightening events within the games. Smartphones, on the other hand, can become dangerous when they’re completely open to contact, with anyone, as well as the fact that they’ll most likely trade in human interaction, for sitting on their smartphones. It’s a small device that’s easier to carry around and use in public, which opens the doors to obsessive usage. But, there are positives to using these intelligent tools-it all comes down to the way in which you use them. One company has created a virtual reality device targeted at children, with a focus on education. The device trades in fantasy worlds, for lessons and imagery of outer space, other countries or the animal kingdom. Smartphones, too, can aid further learning as well as keep them occupied when playing outside is not possible. Smartphones also help parents to stay in touch with their children if they are away from them, and can help navigate where they are and whether or not they arrived safely at their destination.
But, according to child psychologists and child development specialists, playing outdoors and exploring the world, the traditional way, is still the best way for kids to learn, develop coordination skills, muscle strength and imagination. The goal is to find outdoor games that thrill and excite them. This is what they’re used to, after years of being exposed to thrilling, ‘smart’ activities. There are plenty of outdoor games that can offer children just as much stimulation, as they get from tech gadgets.
Outdoor games that offer excitement, as well as get them moving and learning is games such as;
There are paintball companies that offer paintball for kids, and don’t be fooled- it’s one of the most exhilarating outdoor activities one can do. Not only is it fun for kids, but for adults too, which makes it an awesome family activity. This type of game gets them exercising, and thinking strategically. It helps them to develop their imagination and social skills; playing with other children.
Foursquare is a ball game where everyone in the group of four, is designated to a block and has to bounce the ball amongst the other players, with the goal of getting them out, through quick moves and thinking strategically. This game requires one to be fast, and think on the spot. It’s physical, strategic and super fun!
Tag is a game played with a big group. One person is ‘tagged’ and has to run around, trying to catch another player, to pass the unwanted ‘tag’ onto them. That person then tries to catch someone else and tag them. It’s a fun game, with a lot of running, but it keeps children busy for ages!
Blind Man’s Bluff
Blind man’s bluff is the same as tag, except the person that’s ‘tagged’ has to wear a blindfold. Of course, this makes it that much more challenging, but that much more exciting, too!