Do you remember when we were kids? Yup! Way back when you left the house on a summer's morning to hang out with your buddies in the neighborhood - or as I remember it - the alley. Your parents had very little concern for where you were all day. And, if they were "worried," they never let you know it. You showed up back at your house when you were hungry. If dinner was ready and you weren't home, your mom would ring "the bell." At least that is what I remember about Martha Jane.
They were hot, summer days and firefly nights. It was trips to the pool combined with a visit from the Good Humor truck. It was the occasional crab feast or barbeque in the backyard with family and friends. It was trips to Cape May for weeks on end of ski ball and visits to Morrow's Nut House. It was long before cell phones and video games and well before social media became an acceptable means of communication. It was before advertising and marketing became supercharged by the information highway. Can you remember back that far? I can. Are there memories that are any sweeter?
Now, years later, we are bombarded with information 24/7. We are connected to everyone all the time. There is no escaping. We are all familiar with the "ping" when you receive a text, a Facebook notification, an email or a voice mail. I will be the first one to admit these notices are annoying!
That said, technology is not a bad thing - it is just a very different part of childhood and our lives today. As a result, kids miss out on the simple things: climbing trees, building forts, scraping knees or simply holding open a lemonade stand - and all of this without parental supervision. But it is not just the fault of technology.
As a culture, we are afraid something bad is going to happen to our families. We have denied generations the space and freedom to grow, to make mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. Being a hovering parent is no one's fault directly - it can be a big bad world out there. We are all designed to protect our loved ones. It is the momma bear theory.
But, how do we help our kids "Kick It Old School"? I think this is a great question and is up for discussion. As the parent of two teenagers and the owner of Mary Rau Public Relations specializing in marketing, advertising, public relations and social media, this is a burning question.
Where is the balance? What are the limitations? I believe this to be a personal or family decision. Don't misunderstand, technology is a wonderful tool. But it should not be the end all. Parents, it is okay to limit access and moderate exposure. Turn off the TV and the computer. Limit the video games. Having just had the honor of hearing Temple Grandin speak, I agree with her suggestion to engage your kids in new activities. Introduce them to the bigger world - a world outside of their box and yours. Go for a walk, a bike ride, or a picnic. I understand that sometimes this works - sometimes it doesn't. Bottom line - we do the best we can.
For the record, I am in favor of the lemonade stand.