Kids look at future of play and leisure

 by 8-18 Media

computer-158743_640It’s crazy to think that just twenty years ago many current sources of entertainment for kids didn’t exist. MySpace, texting, hand-held video games and iPods had yet to be invented.
Although some forms of entertainment never change, developments do come along and change our world significantly from generation to generation.
One can imagine that just as things have changed in the past twenty years, similar changes may be in store for kids twenty years from now.
Most kids said technology will increasingly be that engine for change. Wille Morrison, twelve, of Marquette, gave examples of things he is interested in that are not likely to change much and some that are certain to change.
“I play guitar, play video games, all that kind of stuff,” he said. “In the future, musical instruments are probably not going to change much because there’s not really much room to improve, but video games are going to get more high tech. There’s going to be more stuff built into them.”
Anna Massaro, ten, of Marquette, agrees that video games and other electronic entertainment devices will continue to evolve.
“I think that video games are going to get more high tech and I think that kids are going to start playing twenty-four seven,” she said. “There is going to be more violence and stuff and that might affect who you are in the future.”
What if parents of the future yell out the old classic roar, “You kids get outside?” Keigan Everett, nine, of Marquette, envisions outdoor video games.
“I think that they might make some video games that will be played outside like exercise video games,” he said. “There will be fresh air and you can still play video games, almost like Dance, Dance Revolution for outside dancing.”
Many child development experts feel technology will continue to bring about monumental changes––both good and bad––for kids in the future.
According to Marianne Saarivirta-Kolpack, executive director of Community Coordinated Childcare of the U.P. (4-C), based in Marquette, growth and development in children can be influenced easily by technology. She believes technology can have both positive and negative effects on children.
8-18-Media-Logo-300x101“I think some of the positive ways are that children are really up-to-date with technology, so a lot of times they can teach their parents about the technology of today,” she said. “But, I think some of the negative effects are the fact that children are indoors and inactive more now.”
With so many developments in technology, it’s easy to see how kids may become dependent on it in the future. Some may become so dependent they forget how to play on their own.
The National Parent Teacher Association is among the groups worried about changes in childhood play. On its Web site, the association points toward changes in toys as an example. Instead of the basic wood blocks, Tinker-Toys and noninteractive dolls, today’s kids are increasingly playing with all interactive toys that “tell” the kids how to play rather than leaving it to their imaginations.
“The important thing is that parents get involved and learn how to play and have fun with their kids without technology,” said Hannah Tuimala, a childcare specialist at 4C.
“Kids can play with a cardboard box any way they want to. No matter how sophisticated the video game is, you can only play in the way that the video game allows you to play. Hopefully, there are always going to be classic toys like blocks and open-ended things where kids can do whatever they want with them.”
Child care experts also say one of the most important things for children to experience is outdoor play. According to Saarivirta-Kolpack, kids need the fresh air, sensory experiences and socialization that playing outside provides. She emphasized that outdoor play provides benefits that new technology such as the Wii gaming system cannot.
“If you play soccer on the Wii, it’s not the same as going out and running with your friends and playing in the grass,” she said. [Kids won’t be] getting the same benefits as being outside and playing in the grass and getting the fresh air and being with their friends.”
Sports play a large role in the lives of many children as a hobby and as a form of exercise. However, the role they play in kids’ lives could change drastically in the future, facing tough competition against the new technology.
Massaro is afraid sports could take a backseat to technology.
“I think that sports are going to have less of a role as video games get more high tech,” she said.
Andrea Olson, eleven, of Marquette, is not so sure. She believes her generation will continue to pass along a love of sports to the next.
“My dad has loved hockey since he was two-years-old and now he’s fifty and he still loves it,” she said. “If after all those years he still loves it, I think I will too.”
Katie Edwards, twelve, of Marquette, is hopeful that society, perhaps schools, will play a role in keeping active sports in the forefront.
“I think that schools are going to try to do more team sports, because they’ll be thinking that kids are not getting enough exercise,” she said.
Even individual sports like downhill skiing could change radically. Morrison imagines indoor skiing will be a future development.
“There’s probably going to be climate-controlled rooms where it’s an indoor ski resort,” Morrison said. “That would be pretty sweet.”
Books and music are other classic sources of entertainment for people of all ages. As predicted in some futuristic novels, will books and music begin to die?
Will future kids be seen carrying around heavy volumes of the latest popular book series and will classics like The Beatles still be heard leaking out of future ear buds?
“I think that books are going to stay here forever,” Olson said. “Books have been here for a long time.”
Morrison agreed. “If books have stayed around for as long as they have, why won’t they stay another twenty years?”
Massaro also agrees that reading will continue, but she is not so sure about paper books.
“People are starting to download all of their books onto their computers so that they can read them any time and because it’s more convenient because we don’t have to carry around a huge stack of books,” she said. “You can just read them all off of your laptop.”
At the rate technology is progressing, you can’t help but wonder whether future generations will ever appreciate books, board games, and “old school” Nintendo.
“There’s going to be like, one or two things between generations that are enjoyed,” said Morrison. “If I ever have kids, I’ll probably keep a couple of things from this age to show them and they’ll probably say, ‘ooh, what’s that?’”
Only time will tell whether the favorite youth activities of today will join the ranks of vinyl records, VHS tapes and comic books.

Editor’s note: This story was written by Megan Maas, 16, and Jessica Goodwin, 13, with contributions by Dennis Bao, 12.

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