Hundreds of thousands of people are weighing in on the factors keeping kids — and especially teens — on social media, rather than meeting up in real life.
The tweet that ignited this particular conversation said that when older people ask, “Why don’t kids go outside anymore?” the answer could be, ironically: Because of the outside those older people built. And it shows a photo of a four-lane highway lined with business and chock-a-block with traffic. In the middle you can make out what looks to be a teen on a bike.
Not sure if he ever made it across the whole way.
City planning does explain a lot about how a town does or doesn’t work for people without cars, including kids. Towns with no sidewalks, housing projects with desolate courtyards, new developments bifurcated by giant access roads, and even leafy suburbs where there are no shops within walking distance of the homes — all these play a part in keeping kids indoors or in cars.
So does technology. Getting around a neighborhood matters a lot less now that there’s another place to gather, and it doesn’t involve leaving the house. This magical turn of events has made venturing to the mall or the park less necessary for hanging out — even though kids would generally STILL prefer to meet up in person.
And there are the —
Factors keeping kids inside that we focus on here at Let Grow:
- The perception of crime that is not always in synch with reality. For decades, the majority of Americans surveyed have said that crime is going up, when in fact, violent crime in America declined 49% between 1993 and 2020.)
- The fear of kidnapping (which apparently tops parents’ list of worries).
- The ever-higher age that kids are presumed old enough to do anything on their own. (A British study found parents who were allowed to play outside on their own at 9 now don’t let their own kids out until age 11.)
- The belief that organized activities are more valuable than goof-around, footloose time in childhood — a conviction shared by parents across the economic spectrum.
- The fact that when lots of kids are in those organized activities, other kids look out the window and don’t see anyone to play with, so they stay inside — or sign up for organized activities, too.
- Your theory here!
And then there’s …
Extra homework, extra cars, maybe even fear of excess sun (we’re seeing kids in long sleeves on boiling hot days, presumably to keep them safe from the sun’s rays). We’d like to hear your thoughts on why kids are spending less time outside — and if you’ve seen any great ideas that counter this trend.
Please hop over to Let Grow’s Raising Independent Kids” Facebook page to comment!
Send your kids outside so you can concentrate!