How things have changed. Now I'm a mum of three and I live in a world where children expect to be entertained for the entire time they are awake. Did I miss out by not having the opportunities that today's children have or is there a lot to be said for a simpler life?
Here's why I'm glad I was a child in the '70s and not today.
My children don't believe me when I tell them that there weren't any television programmes in the afternoons AT ALL when I was a kid. And they can't believe there were just three channels and children's programmes only came on for a couple of hours in the morning and then again in the evening. Instead of being glued to screens indoors, we spent time outside with our friends and, even in winter, we would stay out until the bitter end, using only the light of the street lamps to play.
I'm very strict about electronics and we don't have an X-Box or Wii or anything like that. Tablet time is restricted to car journeys because even I am smart enough to know that three hours playing eye spy is no fun for children or parents. But in the '70s, fun was made using only a ball and the edge of the pavement, playing rounders in the field or racing up and down the streets. Kids played on bikes, roller boots, skateboards and the like for real, not electronically. My children have all of these things in our garage but they're not the natural option to pick up and play with.
We didn't go to after school clubs and we rarely had homework. Now parents are expected to put so many extra hours into our kids' education. Whether that's because standards are higher or the teachers don't have time to teach them everything, I don't know. Homework at junior level has always been a real bugbear of mine. There's plenty of time for doing homework when you're at senior school and being out discovering the real world for yourself is just as important.
No one is comfortable letting their children out of their sight anymore. I don't think the world is a more dangerous place either — I remember being exposed to what was going on in the world from a very young age. It may have been a consequence of only having limited television channels to watch but I heard about various serial killers and murderers during my younger years. I grew up with an innate fear but in a way it made me more streetwise and savvy. Nowadays we protect our children from all that is bad in the world and we personally escort them everywhere they need to go. They don't have the same amount of independence that we did. I'm not saying we were left to our own devices but letting your kids "get on with it" was a common attitude.
Ultimately children are a product of the environment around them and today's children are growing up in a digital world.
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