Kids Need To Have More Fun

‎Our kids today need to have more fun.

We’ve become a very serious society.

An emphasis on safety, rightfully a most critical issue for parents, has taken on extraordinary proportions.

We’ve hyper accelerated conversations on child safety from stove tops and crossing the street, safety from unwanted touch, and safe driving to safety from world terrorism.

We’ve taken old fashioned schoolyard play and ‎replaced these words with bullying.

Organized football games lexicon now include CTE, concussions, and from league soccer to baseball to hockey parents from the sidelines berate opposing team youngsters at times even seriously injuring umpires.

No one is suggesting a return to four sewer stick ball, ‎but has exercise reverted to spin classes and developing social relationships trough APPS and social media?

The common denominator to both is ‘alone’.

Schoolyard play and other forms of social interactions – be it for boys or girls, breeds a sense of competitiveness, camaraderie thru teamwork, even the concept of fighting back. Winning meant sharing, clawing, scratching, seeking out a hit or a winning goal

Spin classes and the internet breed social isolationism.

Fighting your way thru an Internet based mind game doesn’t breed team spirit.

A seven year old playing hours on the latest iPhone or tween texting thru a conversation does not teach social skills nor broaden your vocabulary.

A bicycle ride with a friend, a pick-up basketball game in the local park are ageless means to form friendships even if it means falling and scraping your knee or suffering a loosened tooth off the backboard.

Not only has air travel so changed and restricted ‎our lives we seem to now live in a virtual threat. Terrorism is the news. On radio, TV, print and Internet the world over we are forced to hear, live and breathe it.

We seem to be for or against something or someone.

What we once learned as regression to the mean has evolved as nurturing our thought process to the negative.

Those books of yesteryear on the five steps to positive thinking are replaced by bestsellers oft bearing titles with the word threat, terrorism, cyber-security screaming on the cover.

Our daily lives require us to carry our photo ID to be announced to a routine meeting and the 7 o’clock news doesn’t have a positive image to report on until 7:20.

This naturally permeates the constellation of our family structure and the manner by which we teach our children to think, to play, to interact.

Fun is fun. It can’t be re channeled into a form of ‎playing from a distance. Jumping rope, a piece of chalk demarcating a space on the sidewalk that belongs to a few kids this is not longing for days of yore.

Following 9/11 depicted as the first ‘war on America’ in a generation psychologists advised parents ‎to keep their children from a constant reviewing of the destruction lest it be imbued in their mind. Fear and Trauma has its own way of seeping into the mind like water finding its way into cracks and crevices eroding a building foundation.

One of the ways we can counter the fear of terrorism in addition to our vigilance and to protect our children from harm at all costs is to instill and teach them how to have fun. Good old fashioned fun. Interacting with peers. Socializing. Noise-making. Two good friends tossing a ball.

Breaking the silence of the iPhone and Internet loneliness and measuring it by moments of gaiety and laughter.

How much fun it could be if Apple’s newest iPhone for kids would have a jump rope attached to it.

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York