There has been a drastic shift in how kids play and have fun nowadays compared to how it was in the 90’s. I have started to see posts on Facebook that are nostalgic in nature such as photos of more humble-looking homes and children having fun outdoors and I remember fondly how things were like ‘back then’.
Growing up in a remote mining village, the most common way to play was by engaging in the typical types of outdoor games. Kids would go out and play all day and only return to their homes when called in for lunch or dinner. Back then, we would play games like patintero, Chinese garter, luksong baka and luksong tinik, hide-and-seek, playing ‘house’ or ‘school’ and would use sticks, plants and stones lying around as props, and many more.
We owned a sari-sari store then, and the types of snacks and toys we sold reflected what was popular at the time. Whether it was pogs, tex cards, paper dolls, and boxes of rubber bands so that kids can assemble their own jumping rope – these are seemingly simple devices for play, which brings me back to my earlier statement of how during the late 90’s, there was a shift.
Video gaming was already visible even then, though at the time, it was only the more affluent families that had access to them. I had one classmate who owned a PlayStation, and I knew that the other boys who lived in his neighborhood would go to his house all the time.
When we lived with my grandmother, she forbade my brother from playing outside. When he excitedly listened to the other kids inviting him to play and dashed out the door, my grandma would lock the door to our house. For someone who is parentless, that is quite a terrorizing punishment. So, he played with the PlayStation that our cousin left in the house when she moved to Canada in 2003.
Playing with electronics and entertaining oneself with more modern gadgets is definitely more commonplace these days. One of the key instances when this hit home for me was when I visited my godmother. Her only son was about three years old at the time and this was in 2013 or so. I saw him approach his father with a tablet and ask, ‘Can you please download this for me?’
When I chat with my colleagues who have kids, I realize that video gaming and electronics have also changed the dynamic within families, especially when it comes to discipline. Before, a form of punishment would be to ground the child, oftentimes forbidding them from going outside to play with friends for a period of time. That does not work anymore, since many children no longer play outside, instead preferring to play with the different gadgets that are already within the home, if not, within their bedroom. The recent versions of ‘grounding’ I have been hearing about lately involve parents turning off their WiFi, taking away the electronic gadgets, taking away the chargers of those gadgets, or limiting screen time.
I listen with curiosity about changes like these and wonder about the short-term and long-term changes in our community all the time. I think for the most part, if they are managed in a reasonable manner, any negative effects can be mitigated.