The first lecture of the year really got me thinking about the differences between childhood 20 years ago to childhood in the present day. On first thought childhood for most people carries the reminder of being carefree, having no stress and being able to play outside after school until the street lights turn on. However is this still the case today?
Today, society is the safest it has been in 39 years but it seems apparent that in the present day more and more parents will hesitate to let children play outdoors, on the streets around them (BBC, 2013). The shocking results of a survey taken in March of this year have reported that prisoners in the UK spend more time outdoors than three quarters of the child population (Carrington, 2016). The question is why is this? Why is this the shocking reality of todays society especially if the crime rate is at a 39 year low? Is it the media? Technology?
Picture taken from Google Images-www.cision.com
The media have a huge impact on the world around us and can have a massive impact on the way people see the world around us. Dowler (2003) goes as far as stating that most of our knowledge on the subject of crime is derived from what we see on the tv, read in newspapers or see online. When I think about just how many times a day we see news headlines flashed around on our televisions, phone screens, billboards and in the papers, it is obvious just how much of an effect this can have on us, without us necessarily knowing it. Seeing these negative, crime-filled headlines so many times on a daily basis can reduce the persons ability to feel safe in their surroundings. Dowler (2003) exemplifies the strong links in which the average persons daily media viewing’s can effect their sense of safety.
Personally, I agree with Dowler, although statistically speaking the UK has the lowest crime rate it has ever had in 39 years, the negative media coverage will not reinforce the idea of a safe environment for children to play. This, therefore, may go hand in hand with Carrington (2016) as although the facts state that safety is on the rise in society today, the negative media coverage will not back this up giving parents reason to keep their children indoors.
As well as the changes in media coverage, the technology has improved significantly since the days when I grew up also. Twenty years ago when I began my childhood mobile phones were almost unheard of…now pupils of all ages are walking around with the latest Iphone?!
Picture taken from Google Images – phonebandit.com
I still remember my first phone (pictured above), which I was given in Primary 7 for emergency use only. This phone had been passed through the family from grandparents, to my mother, then my eldest sister before making its way to me. Nowadays it seems a lot more common for children in the younger school years to have, or have access too, the latest mobile technology. The American survey found that over half of children will be given a mobile phone at the age of 6 years old (KTRK,2015). Khan (2015) has explored the advantages to this, one being a safety factor and the other being convenience. However downsides are also outlined, for example, dangers and disruption (Khan, 2013). Advantages to phone technology are phenomenal and extremely helpful to us if used correctly. However, in my opinion at the age of 6 a child does not necessarily need to be this connected in the technical world. Parents will always have ways to contact their child if needs be, especially when the child is in a school setting. Therefore, the child as young as 6 does not need the latest mobile technology.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand…
Is the advance in technology the reason why children do not explore the outdoors like we used to?
I feel technology definitely plays a great part in the reason why children are not outside as much anymore. The advances in technology with televisions, computers, gaming software and, again, mobile phones should be used in a balance along with casual play. Technology has been blamed for the decrease in outdoor play many times but people fail to understand the importance of a balance between them (Rethinking Childhood, 2013). Although there are many things which children can fixate on Television is one which is most apparent. Television can be an educational resource when used correctly however too much television at a young age has also been shown to contribute to hyperactivity and attention difficulties in those children (Rethinking Childhood, 2013).
I suppose there is not an exact answer to determine what keeps children indoors more so present day than 20 years ago but more just contributing factors. Times have changed but maybe a step back from technology would do present day children some good.