What a decade has done to the way children spend their time


My sister and I playing outside in the mud circa 2008

Peyton Heath, Reporter

Disclaimer: none of this is based on any statistics or research, just my own experience as well as the experience of my younger siblings

In recent years, the neighborhood structure has changed. Rarely any children spend time outdoors, causing streets and neighborhoods to be quiet and empty – places where children used to spend their time all day not too long ago.

Back in the early 2000’s, the majority of children’s time was spent outdoors. We spent hours every day outside exploring, climbing trees, and running around with the other kids in the neighborhood until the sun set. This caused neighborhoods to be constantly bustling with the activity of all the kids on the block playing together. Now, however, this is not the case. Kids are too busy playing several sports or spending all day on electronic devices.

I remember being very young and being able to run around the neighborhood as long as I checked in with my parents every so often. My brother and I would explore our backyard, play hide and seek around the block, run down the muddy hill barefoot until the sun set. My brother and I practically lived outside. We spent every day outdoors, rain or shine.

A few years later, technology started to advance even more rapidly and it became more readily available (the very first iPhone came out in 2007, and look where we are now). Ten years ago, when I was seven, the only electronic device I had access to was a slow desktop computer. Technology assuredly was prominent back then, but it was certainly not even as half advanced as it is now. Now, my seven year old brother has his own Kindle. My siblings’ classes have their own iPads and Chromebooks, but when I was in elementary school, computer labs with ancient desktop computers were still in use.

Being the eldest of six children in my family, I have been able to witness the drastic change in how children spend their days. My younger siblings spend a lot of time indoors, yet they aren’t even the worst. Some kids spend hours every day playing video games and watching television. Children as young as ten years old (sometimes younger) are getting their own cell phones. Just a few years ago you could go outside in any neighborhood and see a plethora of children enjoying their time outdoors. Nowadays, children, much like the adults in charge of them, can be seen wasting away their time and day on electronic devices, when just ten years ago this wasn’t as big of a problem.

One solution to this issue is to limit children’s screen time. Especially toddlers, otherwise they will develop a reliance on technology to entertain them. I’ve seen young children throwing tantrums when their parents refuse to let them play on their phones.

When I was young, phones didn’t even have apps or games.