Saturday, February 18, 2006

Our Youth are Missing Out?

I just recieved some news which, while not catastrophic, is troubling. There used to be a hobby shop in Lansing Michigan that was the size of small department store. When I used to play AD&D, (before the 3rd edition disgusted me to the point of no longer playing) I would spend nearly a third of my discretionary income there. I also bought rocket supplies, gifts, models and other things as well as RPG stuff. Today I learned that it is no longer there. (I have not lived in Lansing for some time.)

The reason. Hobby stuff just does not sell that much any more. I was building stuff with "Lincoln Logs" and "Tinker Toys" before I knew how to read. When I was 7 or 8 my erector set was my favorite passtime; today you can't give them away. When I was a little older I loved my Chemistry set, now our local hobby store sells one or two a year, usually to honor students who need them for their studies and they have to be special ordered. I was one of several in my class who owned a microscope (which I still have), and a lot of kids I know don't even have an interest in them. I also owned a 300x telescope which I gave away about 15 years ago. None of this was unusual as a lot of my playmates and friends had them. When I was 12 or 13, we built model rockets from scratch; today they are prebuilt -- just plug in the engine and lauch. I don't even know too many kids who like to build model cars or airplanes (and they really don't sell that well, mostly to adults). Now Legos were quite popular for a while but they too have begun to fade.

I love computers, but I think we have to lay a lot of the blame for this on the computer and the home video game. I wonder what is going to inspire our next generation of engineers, scientists and astronauts.

It even hurts sports. A nearby town has discontinued little league baseball due to lack of interest (they couldn't get enough kids to fill 2 teams, even though there are quite a few children there.) Are there going to be any American-born ballplayers in the big leagues 30 years from now? (And the "experts" blame obesity in kids on McDonalds - not inactivity.)

I used to think my parents were crazy when they said we spent too much time watching TV and not enough time doing things. Now I think that maybe they are on to something. Fortunately there will always be a few kids who break the mold and make things and do things, not just play video games and therein is our hope. We cannot allow computers to become our sole hobby, nor the only hobby of the young.

4 Comments:

Blogger Rebekah said...

You're absolutely right. I notice the same thing.

I would finish that wood log cabin, but I'm too busy blogging... :)

9:56 PM  
Blogger ABFreedom said...

We used to spend tons of time building models, then we would blow them up with fire crackers and blockbusters ... LOL

But your right, this is something that is truly missing today, and could trigger a lot of imaginative discoveries in earlier years ..

10:23 PM  
Blogger Lone Pony said...

When I was growing up, I wanted a chemistry set so badly, but my parents wouldn't buy it for me because I was a girl. I believe that set me back quite a few years.

Our school got a grant to pay for computers, but a limited budget to pay for supplies. I've gone to online disections etc. because of this. It's good we have at least that much.

I agree with you that our kids spend too much time on computers. (I do too.) Some of my kids tell me they don't have time for homework, but I know they play computer games and chat online.

On the upside, I guess our military people catch on quickly to the new technology because they grew up playing with things like that.

12:06 PM  
Blogger The Catskill Chronicle said...

I remember the erector sets, lincoln logs, and the like. Mom would never allow a chemistry set in the house, though, and Mom, being a nurse, probably knew what she was doing, as I still have my eyes, ears, and fingers.

I'm divided on the use of the computer, as one of my two sons learned all he could about IT
(on a slow 386 ) and became a professional geek working for a large bank keeping out hackers for more money per year than I made in 10 years, and the other one, although not spending as much time of the internal workings of the puter, can type 80 words/minute which led him a ace his classes at college and the Army, where he's now a Lieutenant working on Captain.

The Army paid for 26 weeks of intensive training in the transportaion area, as he was top in his class, and then gave him, as an enlisted man, a 2 year scholarship for his junior and senior years of college, and is paying now for grad school (which is almost finished).

It comes down to how they use the time on the internet and computer.
If they are learning programming, debugging scripts, fixing computers, taking them apart, rebuilding them, fine.

Surfing for naked marsupial sites is discouraged.

I think computer games and too much TV time is just as damamging,
but like everything in life, limiting exposure to time-wasters and encouraging interest in things that matters are the things that matter most.

5:22 PM  

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