Kids these days. Am I right? With their Nintendo DS’s and their PSP’s and their Pokey Mons. When I was growing up, our idea of fun was to go in the backyard and hit each other with sticks and pretend we were Jedi or ninjas or VR Troopers. VR Troopers? Anyone? No one? Fine, moving on.
The point is, my electronics time as a kid was limited. My parents actually made the effort to shoo me and my brother outside if we spent more than two hours playing Nintendo. Let me tell you, when you were working with a broken Zelda cartridge that would save your game only, oh, let’s say 42% of the time, that made rescuing princesses very difficult. Instead, we had to make do with analog toys like Aerobies and Nerf guns, and set the electronics aside.
I was on the Toys R Us website (I’m disappointed that I can’t type a backwards “R” right now) looking for gifts for my nephew, and as soon as the front page loaded, I was shocked. I did not see an ad for a Slip n’ Slide, or a bicycle, or a LEGO set. Instead, staring me in the face was an ad telling me to buy an iPod.
Now, I have an iPod. I love my iPod. I couldn’t live without my iPod. But I’m pretty sure my one-year-old nephew doesn’t need an iPod.
Electronics have become a huge part of kids’ toys over the last twenty years. Click on the “educational toys” tab on the Toys R Us website, and the first thing you see is a handheld gaming device. They sell laptops now as well, which are listed in the 5-7 age range. Five to seven years old. Do kids that young even know how to spell laptop?
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m anti-technology. As the Tech Nerdist, that would be like Mike Tyson saying “Hey kids, remember, violence isn’t the answer”. I can’t go four hours without my laptop, I can’t go four minutes without my phone. And if I go a day without some Call of Duty, my thumbs start to twitch.
But the thing is, kids need to use their imaginations. In my last post, we discussed some classic game controllers, and some of you mentioned how you used the Nintendo Zapper as a toy as well as a controller…and I did too. Many of us did. It’s because when we’re kids, we play. It’s all part of developing our feeble little kid brains.
Maybe I’m overreacting. To be honest, I’m just kinda jealous. Nowadays, kids get to play with awesome stuff like this Star Wars Force Trainer, which comes with a headset that READS YOUR EVER-LOVIN’ BRAIN WAVES so that when you think about levitating the ball in the tube, it actually levitates. Do you know what would have happened if I had gotten one of those for Christmas as a kid? My head would have exploded. Literally exploded. My parents would have been cleaning gray matter off of the Christmas tree and cursing the heavens and Mattel.
I’m actually of the belief that I owe a lot of my problem-solving and other life skills to video games, so I think there is some value to electronics for kids. But we do need to shove them outside at some point. Nothing builds character more than getting shot in the face with one of these:
Yeah, that’s a goddamn Nerf machine gun.
Go ahead, prove me wrong. Show me some good tech for kids in the comments.