Why don’t kids play outside anymore?

Opinion Sunday 11/June/2023 19:49 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Why don’t kids play outside anymore?

The great outdoor activity is now almost non-existent. Fresh air is a rarity and I am not talking about pollution. Businessmen, with the help of engineers, are building mausoleum-like structures that entertain people under a concrete roof where the sun rays never penetrate. The places kids now love to spend their summers with the blessing of their parents.

When I was growing up, we kept close contact with the earth and the feel of the sands under our feet made up part of our childhood experience. There were acres and acres of space to explore and endless hideaways when you feel you want to be alone. It was all open under the blue sky and no one was complaining that the sun was a major cause of skin cancer.

The same businessmen, to make a quick buck, are selling creams to protect us from the sunlight and drinks to replenish our energy. In summers like this, you used to see children staging their own Olympics on the streets. The commotion they caused was part of life in the neighbourhood. You now wonder where all the children have gone? Aren’t they supposed to be frolicking out there like we used to? The answer is that most families lock up their children at home fearing that they might pick up bad habits. They also have them staying indoors, not to learn anything useful but watch television or play mobile phone games.

One parent defended it by saying “why should l let my kids out there kick a stupid ball or run in circles when they can do something for their future by learning something new from the Internet?”

I am not a man who argues when the other person has made up his mind about his convictions. Of course he was wrong. To him, ten months of school in a year is not enough. A kid must strengthen his mind about other educational pursuits in the other two months just to satisfy over zealous parents. What he didn’t know that he was actually creating robots to comply with his carefully written programs. But the surprising thing is that this man was actually kicking a “stupid ball” with me in our neighbourhood when we were kids.

He broke every window within the two hundred meters radius with his experimental shots. He was also climbing every tree on his path and rode a bike in a breathtaking speed around corners. I would say we had fun with our childhood without being malicious. And we turned out to be alright. I could not help feeling that he is depriving his kids the same privilege his father allowed him when he was growing up.

Parents like him would say that the world has now changed from the one we knew. It is true but our parents said the same thing. But you cannot lock up your children just because their “minds would be polluted by other kids.” It is also an insult to other parents who don’t feel the same way. In my opinion and I would stick to it, kids must be taught to be street-wise. And that does not mean they should get into drugs or involved in a fight. If they are happy and get a solid upbringing at home, they would know how to handle the streets. It is where kids learn the basic elements how to handle problems in their future lives.