On Childhood

In the past few weeks my attention has been drawn to repeated posts on social media claiming
“I survived free range parenting!” and “These kids today don’t have a real childhood. So sad.”

Just stop. What makes your childhood better than someone’s today? What makes you think a kid who plays video games or texts their friends on a smart phone doesn’t have a childhood?

Here’s the definition of childhood: the period during which a person is a child.

Nope, nothing in there about no Internet and social media and only playing outside. Read that definition again. If they’re a child, they have a childhood. End of discussion.

Here’s the problem. The childhood they are having is not the same childhood you had, and you can’t seem to understand that and thus protest on social media.

Instead, people seem to think that since it’s not the same as what they had that it’s wrong. That their childhood was better. That it was how a kid should grow up. Do you have any idea how arrogant and condescending that mindset is?

Rewind one hundred years and the bicycle, the quintessential childhood toy, was not even considered a children’s toy. Did those poor kids growing up without bikes not have a childhood? What about 200 years ago when it was more likely that they were helping the family provide instead of going to school? Where did their childhood go?

They still had a childhood, just a different one from the one you and I experienced. And this is only the Western world we’re talking about here, not even touching on regions not as fortunate.

The technology kids are picking up today is staggering. I know people who can barely use a computer and I know kids who understand more about today’s technology than many people I work with as an information security engineer. Why is this? Because they’re growing up with it.

The crux of it all is that kids today have access to technology that just did not exist when previous generations were growing up. These kids have access to so much information it is mind-boggling and they will only be better because of that exposure.

So please, please, just stop pretending you and your childhood are superior.

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