As I’m sitting in a dental waiting room, waiting that extra half an hour for my appointment to be called, I watch a group of about seven year olds playing on their gadgets. I stare in awe as I remember what I had at that age: some paper, a pack of pencils and – the extreme of gaming – a Tamagotchi.
Suddenly now, every kid has a Smartphone, iPod, DS, PSP and XBOX before they even reach the last year of primary school. Admittedly, I have three of the five listed, but then again, I am nearly at the end of secondary school. As for my first phone, I got it right at the end of primary school, before I joined secondary school, when it was needed - even then it was very simple, unlike the iPhones, HTCs and BlackBerrys you see now in the hands if those only recently toilet trained. I’m sorry, but no-one that age needs a phone – after attempts to call Peppa Pig and numerous 999 dials, the phone is likely to end up flushed down the toilet, thrown out the window, or sitting at a miniature table surrounded by dolls, being welcomed as ‘Mrs McDougal’. Of course, the latest developments in technology make it hard for ordinary toys to compete in the children’s market, and although I say I never had these things, it was because they were never around. However, this is no excuse for the fact that kids now a days are lazy: they would rather someone else provided a story for them to watch, or at most move their thumbs to, rather than go out and play or use their imaginations to create a story with knights and damsels in distress. We’re all guilty of it; despite my avid love for reading, it is always so much easier to just pick up a TV remote and put anything on, even when I’m not interested in it.
Not only are kids losing their imagination, but they’re losing their childhood entirely. Children in year two are already being given the sex education lesson – I understand that they need to know at some point, and keeping them in the dark for too long makes them ignorant and unprotected against the adult world. However, I cannot see the harm in letting them retain their innocence for a few years more; just allowing children to be children. As it is, seven year olds are playing games for those that are eighteen, and watching films rated the same. These games and movies are classified at this rating for a reason, not for them to just be ignored. The violence and language are something an seven year old should not be exposed to, especially as it is shown to have led to real life attacks – I personally would be scarred for life if I saw someone being mutilated by a pyscho in a mask (but then again, I am terrified by I Am Legend, so I have no chances against the likes of Saw). In addition to this, the question has to be raised as to how they got their hands on this to start with. I mean, it’s not like you see a child wandering into an off-licence asking for a bottle of Jack Daniels and a pack of cigarettes. Yet, whilst you might not see it in really young children, you still certainly see it in underage teenagers. I know I am likely to be ripped to shreds by anyone my age by my possibly ‘outlandish’ views, but drugs, smoking and alcohol in someone under 18 are illegal. I accept maybe a glass of wine with dinner once you are responsible enough (you can’t blame me for that one: the French came up with that idea), but really the only reason people my age drink are to either get drunk, seem cool or fit in. For me, if it came between not fitting in and getting in an unimaginable amount of trouble with my parents, I’ll take being an outsider every day of the week. And as for looking cool or attractive: no-one is going to look at someone stumbling around, vomiting everywhere and eventually passing out unconscious and think “Hmm, yeah, potential life partner”. As well as this, although something may start out as being funny, when you’re drunk, you’re a lot more likely to make decisions you wouldn’t normally make; and sometimes ones you can’t even remember. But this isn’t only talking about excessive alcohol consumption. Ladies, a ridiculously short skirt, ludicrously revealing top and heels you can’t walk in may get the guys for now, but they might not be the only ones who see – and not all of them will have friendly intentions. A little bit of decorum now may save you in the long run.
I doubt very much that children or teenagers will change their ways and return to the good old times of colouring books, outside games and stuffed toys. Despite it all, it does make you long for the simpler days, when seven year olds were going on nine, not eighteen.