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Old 12-09-2008, 02:03 PM
 
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Katiana, good point about there having been something less than the complete freedom people recall. In my case, of course freedom to roam increased as I got older, but for much of my childhood the roaming took place right in the local neighborhood, not for miles around. The occasional foray beyond the neighborhood required Mom's approval. Even right around the local turf, it was kind of like we would use someone's house as the home base for that days wanderings around the neighborhood, and I was expected to keep my mother informed of which house was serving that purpose.

The reasons for any changes today do get complicated. Consider my earlier emphasis on the way that two-income households contribute to some other factors people have mentioned. For example, the increase in scheduled activities for children is likely attributable in large part to the fact that getting kids involved in planned activities run by adults takes care of the issue of how the kids will be supervised after school with both parents away at work. Where the complexity enters is in the tendency for the reliance on pre-planned, organized activities to take on a life of its own. It starts as a way to keep the kids under supervision when the parents aren't home. Then parents get competitive about how impressive their children's resume of extracurricular activities is compared to the activities of someone else's kids. This adds to the motivation to get the kids involved in such activities. Then there is the additional twist that parents begin to be honestly motivated by a desire to help their children by getting them involved in all these activities. The more activities in which the typical child is involved, the more that parents start believing that a resume displaying a wide variety of extracurricular involvement is needed for the child to get into a good college, and now you've got a lot of self-perpetuation to something that started out simply as a way to make sure someone was watching the kids while Mom was at work.

Regardless of the causes of this phenomenon, I am concerned about the effects. I think it was beneficial for children to spend time just hanging with friends. The simple need to figure out what to do for the day's activities helped develop the knack for self-reliance and taking initiative, which is compromised when children have most of their activities planned in advance. That old-fashioned free-ranging of the neighborhood probably helped with social skills as well, with children having to work out group dynamics largely among themselves, since there was only a general network of mothers keeping an eye on overall activity, but no adult immediately present to facilitate the children's interaction. The old neighborhood experience probably helped some with the development of leadership skills as well. My experience was that I often hung out mostly with friends my own age, but inevitably there were times when groups of neighborhood kids of varying ages would spend time together. When you were one of the older kids, you had to assume a leadership role, to help make sure little Johnny didn't do something stupid and get hurt. All of this helped develop skills that are useful throughout life. I wonder what will happen as successive generations try to cope with the adult world without having had the opportunity to develop those basic skills back in their old neighborhoods.
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Old 12-09-2008, 02:48 PM
 
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My parents childhood spanned from the 1950s to the early 1960s and they said that was the best time to be a kid growing up. Just imagine the movie "The Sandlot".
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Old 12-09-2008, 03:03 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,528 posts, read 5,713,668 times
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Yep it's changed...
I think elementary school is still sort of sporty, but back then you really didn't have internet, 5000 channels to watch on TV, or a cell phone that is also an MP3 and and organizer.
So all you had was a book and some friends...
It's not necessarily bad, the information kids can get on the internet may prove more useful then what the sword and the stone has to say.
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Old 12-09-2008, 03:55 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 19 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Again, I agree with much of what ogre said. I, too, think it's great for kids to just "hang out". My younger daughter was lucky to have a close friend as a backyard neighbor. When we had to put up a fence for our swimmng pool, we put a gate in the back so they could come and go w/o having to walk around the block. The nice thing was that if they had an hour, they could hang out as no transportation was involved. My older daughter was not quite so lucky, but did have friends within biking distance. And yes, I did expect them to stay where they said they were going, for the most part, or ask the other mother for permission to go to the park, etc.
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Old 12-09-2008, 03:57 PM
 
Location: Texas
43,557 posts, read 52,667,627 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Jarrett View Post
My parents childhood spanned from the 1950s to the early 1960s and they said that was the best time to be a kid growing up. Just imagine the movie "The Sandlot".
That's what I'm saying...our childhood was 'The Sandlot,' except I grew up in the 80s...and we had other cool stuff like Nintendo and Laser Tag. But we played outside most of all.
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:36 AM
 
Location: New Jersey
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Sure. You can read all kinds of stories about how in the early to mid 20th century kids would play baseball in the street, and one of them would grow up to be a superstar. I think that's how it went with Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio for starters. When I came along in the late 20th century, you just couldn't do that, at least not where I lived at the time. You couldn't walk or bike to many meaningful places like stores, churches, movie theaters, or after-school jobs. Staying home reading books and playing video games can get old after a while. Being all spread out was a lot like being fenced in.
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Old 12-13-2008, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Underneath the Pecan Tree
15,989 posts, read 30,680,544 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelCC View Post
Sure. You can read all kinds of stories about how in the early to mid 20th century kids would play baseball in the street, and one of them would grow up to be a superstar. I think that's how it went with Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio for starters. When I came along in the late 20th century, you just couldn't do that, at least not where I lived at the time. You couldn't walk or bike to many meaningful places like stores, churches, movie theaters, or after-school jobs. Staying home reading books and playing video games can get old after a while. Being all spread out was a lot like being fenced in.
I think the 90's was a great time to grow up for kids and teenagers. The movies, music, games,etc. NICKOLODEON! Those were good times playing basketball or football in the street or yard, killing insects and dissecting them, or picking on random kids....ahhh the good ole 90's! I grew up in a white neighborhood so I was always the random black kid with my white friends Now I'm like the total opposite of how I was back than.
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:23 PM
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Location: Ohio
16,822 posts, read 33,216,324 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowie View Post
I think the media's wall-to-wall coverage of every missing child everywhere has created a nation of moms and dads afraid to let their kids out of the house alone until they're old enough to drive.
A noted sociologist agrees with me. Here's his quote in an article today about the resolution of the Adam Walsh murder case and the effect of his father's John Walsh's longrunning TV show "America's Most Wanted."

The Columbus Dispatch - News (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/ADAM_WALSH?SITE=OHCOL - broken link)

Quote:
What it also did, said Mount Holyoke College sociologist and criminologist Richard Moran, is make children and adults alike exponentially more afraid.

"He ended up really producing a generation of cautious and afraid kids who view all adults and strangers as a threat to them and it made parents extremely paranoid about the safety of their children," Moran said.
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Old 12-16-2008, 07:36 PM
 
Location: West Coast
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Kids now a days are fat.
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