The deafening silence fills the air as the lonely playground sits still and quiet on a beautiful, sunny day. The swings are only pushed by the chilling wind, the slides only accompanied by the chirping birds. The friendless bench staring at the beautiful, clean garden- a bit too clean. Where are the children?
Having access to technology, the media, fake I.D’s, alcohol and drugs at our fingertips has influenced today’s youth vastly and stolen from them their childhood and innocence. From playing tag and hide-and-seek to playing online Facebook games and ‘snap-chatting’. From drinking cordial to drinking alcohol. From being taught not to talk to strangers to adding hundreds of strangers in a virtual world. From dressing up Barbie dolls to dressing up like a Barbie doll. From being raised to raising another child. It seems today’s children will look back when they are older, and only see another adult- having no playful, childlike memories.
Child health experts have said that in today’s age, childhood ends at the age of eleven. Children become sexually active and experiment with drugs at a very early age, leaving no room for a fulfilled childhood. Research shows that children in Australia start drinking from as young as twelve, seventy-eight per cent of fifteen year old’s engage in sexual activity, and approximately sixty-thousand children aged between fifteen and seventeen smoke regularly.
Studies show that as compared with the seventy-two per cent of kids from a generation ago, only thirty-five per cent of them today play outside. The dramatic decline seems to be due to a number of reasons including the media, technology, teaching and parenting. Children seem to prefer communicating through video games and online chatting, as opposed to going to the park to play face-to-face.
Canadian teacher Neelam Asif who works with young children explains her perspective on why children are rebelling against the rules in today’s age. “The children are not to blame, it is due to the parents neglecting their children”. Mrs Asif says that the child only follows the parent, and a dysfunctional family will cause the child to lose their innocence.
“The children express their neglect through this type of behaviour… if the child sees that their mother drinks when she is sad, the child will do the same. Education starts at home”. In today’s society, it has almost become a ‘norm’ for children to act like adults, and this has contributed to the decrease in religion and morals. “Because in today’s age, it is more acceptable to lose your virginity at 13, than to save it ‘til marriage.”
Mrs Asif agrees that children nowadays have access to technology, alcohol and drugs, but proclaims that the parents need to teach their children how to navigate the internet safely or at least supervise them, and they also need to teach their children why alcohol and drugs are not to be taken at such a young age.
“Children in Canada are being taught about sex from grade three. And by doing so, they are putting the idea in their heads that it is okay to engage in sexual activity from as young as eight years old”. Whilst these children are being educated on safe practises, Mrs Asif argues that this is too early and instead of being taught how to prevent these activities, they are being taught that they are normal. Parents from Ontario, Canada are protesting against this curriculum, threatening to keep their children at home for a week, hoping that the schools will keep their education age-appropriate. Children are also having their say, holding up signs that read “We say no to sex-ed curriculum!”, and “let us be kids!”.
Parents today have undoubtedly lived a very different childhood from the children today, with technology and the enormous change of societal norms becoming the new playground. If the past is any indication, future advancements will continue to challenge our society. All we can do is embrace the precious memories of our youth, and sit back and await the change that the future generations will bring to this ever-changing world that we live in.