Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Wii paradox

There are those who hypothesize that kids don't get outdoors these days because they are too busy inside playing video games.

I had the chance to test that hypothesis this weekend. Give the kids a Wii, and equal access to an outdoor area, complete with a pond for skating, and access to cross country skis. Set an example, and see what they choose.

Yes, this is Calvin. I only had to mention that I was going to try out my cross country skis, and he was right there. We had a good ski around the former horse pasture. When we came back, Starflower and Mr. Attitude were waiting for us at the pond.

Later, I was doing dishes in the cook shed, and I heard the kids heading out to the pond. As soon as I was finished washing dishes, I grabbed my skates and headed out there. I spent a glorious hour there, complete with snowball fights and everything. I even did a single toe loop-single toe loop combo, although I fell a few times trying it.

The paradox is, the kids had no reason to go outside, what with a new Wii and everything. But they did. Calvin chose twice, to go skiing and later to go skating.

So I really don't believe those who say that kids don't get outdoors these days simply because they choose to play video games instead. My children had the choice, and they chose the outdoors. I think every child who has access to a frozen pond, or stream, or woods, will go there if they can. I mean, there is so much more to discover outdoors, with real land to explore! My children are lucky. But I think about the neighborhood I grew up in, and how there were no wetlands, no streams, no wild forests to explore. So how are children supposed to connect to the land when they have no land to connect with?


barefoot gardener said...

I think you're right. I also think that we, as parents set an example to our kids. If we are the type to spend all our time inside watching tv or (like me) on the 'net, then our kids will follow our lead.

RuthieJ said...

That's a tough question to answer Deb. When we were growing up in a small town the country was only a short bike ride away, plus my mom encouraged us to get out of the house. It's a lot harder for town kids to find outside stuff to do, plus the world has become a scarier place than when we were little kids (at least I think so).
I'm so glad your kids came outside to play and that you have so many natural opportunities for them right there at your place!

Deb said...

Barefoot- I have been a bad example, and dh is not much better. But today I got out, despite the wind that I was going to make into my excuse for not going out, and went for a quick ski, just in time to see a fabulous sunset. There are rewards for acting. Calvin was skating while I was skiing.

RuthieJ- Yes, I think urban and suburban kids of today not only have the challenge of no open spaces nearby, they also have to deal with safety stuff. Sad.

I think about our life here, and realize that it is a great environment for kids. All I had to see to remind me of that was Calvin on the pond, skating and waiting for me to come back from my ski.

Floridacracker said...

Good point about barren suburban or worse... natureless urban kid environments.
Your kids, mine too, are incredibly lucky in their childhood location and activities.

I think part of the problem is when very young children are given video games ... too easy for parents to park them and the game playing becomes habitual ... in place of better habits like reading and gettin' outside.

My kids got their video game access late ... similar to yours,and the good habits were already established ... similar to yours too.

Seven Trees said...

I grew up in Seattle (the very edge) and we had chickens and a garden and treehouses and forts. TV was limited and when video games and MTV were invented, those were limited too.

I feel so bad for all the current crop of kids today that are feedlot kids, force fed chemicals and GMO crap so they can work and spend and die before costing the government any money.