“Children’s ability to roam has basically been destroyed,” said Danah Boyd, a researcher on children’s use of social networking, in a New York Times article today.
It’s typical of our society’s fatalistic attitude towards childhood. In general, that attitude says, “Yes, childhood isn’t as good as it used to be. Just get over it and move on.”
This really pisses me off. No, I’m not ready to move on. I’m not ready to accept the prospect of my children having a worse childhood than I did.
I’m guessing you’re not willing to accept it, either.
Why do people think there’s no hope for turning around childhood? For the most part, people don’t aspire to “change the world” in any way. They take it as it is.
In some rare cases, a vocal minority gets energized about changing something. Over time, they change the world because they speak loudly and righteously.
Well, I’ve speaking righteously about giving children a life of play and autonomy in their neighborhoods for four years now, and I’m about to get a lot louder this year as my book gets published this spring (stay tuned!).
I’m very happy to say that there are many other movements besides our “Playborhood Movement” pulling in basically the same direction:
- Children and Nature
- Overcoming Parental Fears
- Play-Based, Progressive Curricula in Schools
- School Recess
- Child Obesity
- Playgrounds for all Kids
If you’re reading this, you’re sympathetic to many, if not all of these movements.
But, are you loud and righteous? Do your friends know that you think children should play outside more, rather than watch screens inside the house or attend adult-supervised events outside the house? Do you “walk the walk,” so that your neighbors see you outside with your kids often? Better yet, do they see your kids outside without you around?
I dream of a day when we’ve reversed this horrible trend that keeps children from playing outside in their neighborhoods. To get there, we need to win over the hearts and minds of adults. I want to put a stop to those “Children’s ability to roam has basically been destroyed” comments in the popular press.
Bit-by-bit, we need to prove they’re wrong in fact, and in tandem, we have to wipe out that rhetoric from our society. Yes, we need to get a lot louder, folks. I’m going to get a lot louder in 2012.
Who’s with me on this?