Losing Childhood

(Sana Khaliq, Karachi)

Childhood used to be a precious time of imagination and fun that we had before we became teenagers and began preparing for our lives as adults. Time for daydreaming, time alone to use imagination, time to play; time to just be a kid.

Unfortunately this precious time of childhood is in danger of being lost as more and more parents are creating killer schedules that account for every waking hour of a child’s day. There is no “down” time, no personal time for children. Using their imaginations for self-entertainment is no longer an option. Many kids can’t entertain themselves unless they are attached to a computer, playing on-screen games.

Society and the media have managed to convince parents that they are not raising productive, intelligent children if their child isn’t “quality-occupied.” That means giving them everything from classes in advanced subjects to buying the latest in “tech-fun” such as the interactive product called the Wii.

And while I think that modern technology and games are great, and that the right academic class will certainly enrich a child, I find the schedule of non-stop activities wrong. By being constantly on the go, our children are losing a very important part of their lives, their childhood.

Children are also losing the art of conversation. Handheld games are a common site in restaurants. No one engages the child in conversation; it is easier to have them be entertained by a tech toy than a family member. The new baby sitter has become the electronic game.

Our children are not being allowed to be dreamers with opinions and questioning minds. They are taught, but not listened to, in enrichment classes. They are interacting with machines instead of each other. They are not readers, they are watchers.

I am all for advancement and preparing our children for a globally competitive future but even the most tech knowledgeable individual needs to be able to communicate with a real person in order to be productive. Human interaction is crucial.

Readers become inventors. Daydreamers become creators. Those who learn to rely even a little on their imaginations for entertainment become self sufficient adults. All of these activities begin in childhood.

Children need a balance of scheduled activities and down time. No game can compete with a good book when it comes to using the imagination. No on screen “person” can beat talking to a real human.

And no amount of tech smarts can replace having a childhood.

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