As I took my colored construction paper down the colorful aisles of Toys R Us and dreamed of the unending possibilities of prospective Christmas presents, I knew I was in for a treat. Barbie dolls, Lincoln Logs, play sets and dolls were at the top of my list as a child. These toys sparked the essence of my creativity and formed who I am today.
On Sept. 18, 2017 the epitome of my childhood, Toys R Us, filed for bankruptcy due to the internet and technology replacing toys in children’s lives today. The store owes $7.5 billion to toy makers around the globe such as Crayola, Hasbro and Lego. Toys are out and technology is in for the little rugrats — that’s sad.
I would first like to state that I am not a parent, but from an outside perspective looking in, I see a lack of childhood development and creativity in younger generations.
Different events in my life have shaped who I am, but my personality formed at an early age. Through hands-on experience with Lincoln Logs, I was able to dream. I was able to visualize and create luxurious mountain homes deep within the trees of Colorado. My Easy-Bake Oven would create bite-size brownies, but that little conveyer belt of an oven taught me patience, judgment (for measuring) and the importance of time. Most importantly, the greatest life lesson instilled by my parents was simply telling my brothers and me to go play outside.
Being outside encouraged me to be active. I will never forget the redwood playset my parents built with two swings and a slide. I would rappel myself up the 5-foot climbing wall and sling myself down the slide, just to run around and do it all over again. I learned strength through the Olympic-like routines I performed on the swings where I would invite my parents to come out and watch their little gold medal athlete. And through quality family time in the yard, my dad was able to teach me the importance of teamwork, communication and dreams through the American game of baseball.
I do not have many childhood memories being plastered to the TV, glued to a phone screen or scrolling through a tablet. No, I remember looking the waitress in her eyes and telling her my order. I remember the toys and games my brothers and I shared. I am not who I am today because of technology; I am who I am because of my faith, the lessons I learned through nature and my parents.
I was not a saint as a child, and I am not perfect today. But I believe my first cell phone, my brother’s first videogames and our first regular TV show provided a divide between childhood and growing up. Children are missing out on opportunities to develop lifelong skills because parents are giving their children these forms of technology.
I know there is no universal age when a child should be introduced to technology. I also see that technology can form and shape the intelligence of children at an early age. But why should young children learn how to work a computer and master a tablet when there is a world of imagination in their own heads?
These real life and hands-on experiences are what make us who we are today. Children need to be aware of the real world and not just an image within a screen.