Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Go outside and play? No way!

We had an intersting conversation in the office just before lunch time. The boss read a story about mice and how scientists are finding that country and city mice are healthier than laboratory mice. Their findings, it seems, conclude that mice in labs live in too sterile an environment and don't build up certain immunities which makes them more sickly in the long run.

This led us to turn that observation to our kids. Several observations were made that we think a lot more children today seem to need more medical care. Or, I asked, is it just that we have better access to medical care than when we were young? I don't think so, and neither did my coworkers, but it's worth adding to the debate.

Finally, we wound up talking about the reasons why children are spending more time indoors. Had you asked me before I had kids, or even before my oldest was old enough to play outside by herself, I would have given some answer like: "Doggone kids and their Playstations ... don't wanna go outside ... gettin' fat ... etc." But almost unanimously we started comparing our childhoods with our own kids and remarked that the biggest difference is that now parents are, by and large, too scared to let our kids play outside by themselves.

Test this out for yourself. Drive down any street from your childhood and see if you see anywhere near as many children out playing as there were when you were young. I remember when I was a kid, getting on my big wheel and playing outside for hours. And hours. Just disappearing from sight for hours.

My point ... if my kids were to do this, I would lose my damn mind. There would be an amber alert issued. I would start smoking again. I'd be loading my gun and getting ready to go on a manhunt.

I don't let my kids play outside without an adult looking after them or without checking on them every five minutes or so.

My question ... do you really think child abductions and such are more common or are they just more widely reported? Is our fear justified?

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