We were driving through an older neighborhood where the houses were a bit smaller. My daughter wanted to know why they ever built houses so small. I tried to explain to her how when those houses were built they didn’t expect children to play inside and kids didn’t own several rooms worth of toys. the concept was totally foreign to her.
Today we build homes with big living rooms to entertain and a separate family room for play. The room needs to be big enough to fit our 60″ TVs and enough space to place the sectional couch an appropriate distance from the TV. Today it is tantamount to torture to have children share a room (probably because there is so little space in the bedrooms thanks to all those toys). Homes must have enough bedrooms for everyone, plus home offices for mom and dad, either because we work from home or we can’t leave work at work.
These big homes are built on increasingly small lots, leaving little room for a yard. Kids don’t need yards though because they are spending so much time on video games, online games, or games on their mobile phones.
Even when I was a child (too many years ago to think about) this increase in child consumerism had started. McDonald’s was offering toys in the meals and the latest toys were being advertised on TV. My child sees very few of these commercials as we tend to restrict her viewing to channels that limit commercials such as PBS or Disney Jr. So I thought we might not have problems with the “I want that” syndrome. But on the rare occasion she does see them, she begs me for whatever weird light-up-wearable-pillow-pet they are touting.
I have told my daughter that 100 years ago they didn’t have iPads or TV’s or online games, and those children were still happy and not incessantly bored. (Okay, I don’t use the word incessantly with her, but I was thinking it.) She looks at me like I have two heads when I say that stuff.
Some of the brightest minds grew up without this plethora of stuff. Henry Ford, Albert Einstein, and Franklin Roosevelt to name a few. Not that we don’t have incredibly smart people now. Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Sergey Brin come to mind. But do our children need all this stuff to be happy, to grow up to be intelligent, well rounded people, and to make a valuable contribution to the world?