playground


playground

I like toys. I have lots of them: a bike and camping gear and a harp and lots of camera stuff and a computer and an ipod touch and an elliptical exerciser and a bunch of kitchen gadgets and garden tools and, oh yes, a car. Yet I spend most of my spare time on my computer and ipod.

But I’m not doing very well in the fitness department. If I keep sitting all day, I’ll turn into an ottoman (the furniture kind) — all seat and no legs. With the  exception of apps for activities such as birding, starwatching and geocaching, computers and being outdoors don’t go together, and unless you’re just listening to music, you’re not actually doing anything.

And it’s not just me. There has been a lot of hand-wringing about child obesity in the so-called developed world. I saw a Saint John photo by Ian McEachern yesterday, showing a group of 9 or 10 kids playing in on the street next to a group of homes, a couple of adults leaning against the stoop, watching. That was 1968; this is 2010. The boy in this photo is alone. He has an electronic toy in his hand. He hasn’t walked the few blocks to the nearest playground, he isn’t kicking a soccer ball with the neighbourhood kids or heading to the library to check out a new book. He’s standing in a neighbourhood parking lot, with a whole universe of playgrounds to explore, at least until the battery runs down.

Taken on October 2, 2010

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8 thoughts on “playground

  1. Nice photo. I like the way the space recedes. It looks a little forlorn.

    Yes, it’s sad. All the little rhyme games that kids pass down are likely being lost. You know, like skipping rhymes and ball bouncing rhymes. It’s not just electronics that are to blame. There are no stay-at-home mom to yell “Go outside and play!” and free time is filled up with soccer practise and other organized sports.

    • Thanks, barefootheart. That’s an interesting point about the rhyme games, though I think that kind of play is more resilient… perhaps because it’s part of girl culture which tends to be more social. Sometime recently (I can’t remember when or where), I was surprised and pleased to overhear a little girl singing a familiar rhyme as she played.

      I took this photo on a Saturday morning — so likely this boy was told to “go outside and play!” When I was that age, playing meant hanging out with neighbourhood kids or exploring the woods behind my house, but if you don’t have wild space, or friends…

  2. If you’re an ottoman I’m the couch baby 😉 Oh I hear you loud and clear on this one, I adore my computer and the information I can find out via it. I need to move more actually alot more too.

    I also hear about the kids, my youngest, an older teenager, is at a loss what to do if we have no power, she can’t watch tv, can’t use the laptop and if she can’t find her iphone as well all hell breaks loose. Yet I remember riding my bike around the neighbourhood, visiting friends, talking face to face, not via facebook etc, I know which times I’d rather have that’s for sure.

    Times have changed, technology is a great and wondrous thing, but I wonder sometimes if it will be our downfall in alot of ways.

    • Hey Leanne, that would make a great song — “if you’re the ottoman, I’m the couch…”
      Yes, times have changed. Why, just a few generations ago, kids didn’t have a childhood — they had to work as soon as they could walk! How long before the pendulum starts swinging the other way…!

  3. It’s sad about the childhood obesity. Somewhere, I read that if you’re obese at the age of twelve, it will be extremely difficult to lose it later.

    There are many factors at play, I guess, why obesity in general is sky-rocketing in North America … many theories. It must be a ticking time bomb, considering all the medical aspects of it.

    With regards to all the electronics and the information technology; When I read Leanne’s comment about her teenage daughter … that could just as well have been me, myself, and I’m in my fifties! :o)

    All this is fairly ‘new’, even though 1996 feels like ancient times in the ‘online world’, and we don’t really know where it’s headed.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Rebekah.

      You’re right about obesity being a ticking time bomb. Many people are warning about the future cost of health care if more isn’t done to prevent problems now. One of my theories is that our plates are too big… I participated in a weight watchers program this past spring and discovered that I am sometimes eating twice the portion size I need.

      Regarding electronics, I too am hooked on computer gadgets. So many of my interests (and I have to admit social life) are here online; I would spend all day connected if I could. As you say, we don’t know where we’re headed, but I don’t think we can go back. The genie will not go back into his bottle — we must find a way to take responsibility for our own health and to keep our balance in this rapidly changing world.

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