Authenticity, Spooked, For the Love of Villains, Poor Decisions Make the News, and Taking Risks

This entry is part 40 of 100 in the series Today's Tidbits

One of the articles today talks about how keeping our kids super safe may actually be doing them more harm than good.

It raised the question in the comment thread of just how much has the world changed since I was a kid? On a macro level, sure, lots of changes–we’ve got no more Soviet Union (and a whole lot of new countries in its place), gay marriage is a real thing now, 3D movies are the norm and not the novelty–but people are still people. How much, and in what ways, has that changed?

The biggest difference I see is the sheer level of paranoia. There was an article a week or so ago that was by a parent who was facing a lot of court costs because her kid and a friend wandered over to a nearby shopping center. They weren’t supposed to, but that’s beside the point. The point was that the person who came across these two reported very capable young girls panicked and, instead of calling the parents to see what was up, called the cops instead. That escalated quickly and has caused no end of trouble.

Forty years ago, I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened.

We’ve become so afraid of everything–especially personal liability–that, in general, we seem to be far too willing to pass things on to someone else (like the cops) in order to avoid having to deal with any real responsibility. This is the same kind of thinking that’s neutered playgrounds (I know I’m not the only one who remembers getting nasty splinters while flying off of a merry-go-round that four other kids were pushing at near sonic speed).

As today’s article says, it’s in those unstructured (and unsupervised) times of play that kids really start to figure things out for themselves. They learn self control. They learn how to work with others. They learn that trying to stand on the top of the jungle gym probably isn’t a good idea (as they bounce down among the bars). Yeah, we’d go home bruised, and sometimes there’d be a broken bone, but we’d heal and not be likely to make the same mistakes again.

But I grew up in the era of the Satanic Panic and Stranger Danger. Both things that, in retrospect were blown so far out of proportion (the first never having a shred of actual evidence to support it, the second being provably wrong as most “danger” comes from family and friends of the family). That planted the seed of fear in us. As we’ve grown up, and, in some cases begun raising families of our own, that fear seems to have sprouted and begun to strangle all the unstructured play time in the name of “being safe.”

Surely we won’t know for another few years (maybe decades) exactly what the ultimate result of helicopter parents and over-planned childhoods will bring… but I have a feeling we’re not at all going to be happy with what we see.

Series Navigation<< FCC Overloaded, Rough Road to College, Red Velvet Mites of Love, Genderless, and Slenderman DelusionsCreative Living, Tone Deaf ‘Comedy’, Brain Science, Net Neutrality Sniping, and Reset the Net >>
About Kier

I've been on the web since about 1994. I have a background in a lot of things, including a five year stint as a journalist and over a decade of helping people get their message out to the world.

I write on a number of subjects--everything from relationships to personal development to politics and every day life. I hope you get something worthwhile out of it.

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