Duck Hunt, Mario Kart, Sonic the Hedgehog and those Oregon Trail graphics. Remember Saturday mornings with City Guys and Saved by the Bell: College Years? What about playing pogs and winning the neighborhood awkward kid’s coolest slammer? Or the first summer you opened a Kool-Aid stand?
In 1989, childhood was simpler. Girls were girls, boys were boys and all I wanted to do after school was finish my homework and play outside. There was something about fresh air over air conditioning, face-to-face interaction over AOL chatting. Riding my bike with friends was independence. I practiced thinking for myself and making good and bad decisions. I honed my socialization skills and methods of cooperation. Despite being blessed enough to have everything at my disposal, like so many of my peers I gained perspectives on life through exploration. Almost three decades later, I would still rather people watch or play soccer at the park than sit in front of a computer screen all day.
Today’s Angry Birds-playing, allergic to everything, obese and Ritalin-controlled generation of millennial kids are much different. Items that were once perks are now considered necessities. Children expect their own bedrooms, complete with a computer, Internet access and an LCD screen TV. Kindergartners look forward to cell phone plans as they enter elementary school. My children included.
Bombarded with stimulation, they are left with little to no room for imagination. Why read the Harry Potter series when you can watch the movies? Sure, the books are probably better but the DVDs are just as entertaining and require less effort. A book that may take them a week to finish can be summed up in a 90-minute feature film.
Thanks to technology, almost everything is at the touch of a button. Boys don’t have to sneak into grandpa’s stash of Playboy magazines anymore. All it takes is one misspelled word in a Google search for your son to get his first peak at pornography. Children of the present are more exposed than ever. Second-graders are “coming out” and some of their friends have two mothers. Parents are forced to do more explaining at earlier ages, but to a degree, it may be beneficial.
Our kids are likely to be broader, more global free thinkers. Whether they choose to live liberally, moderately, conservatively or somewhere in-between, a propensity to show compassion toward lifestyles different from their own will be unparalleled. Not concerned with what they are supposed to be but whom and what it is they want to be.
LaShaun Williams is a lifestyle and relationship columnist, blogger and social critic. Her work has been featured on popular urban sites, such as The Grio and AOL Black Voices. She has made appearances on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and Santita Jackson Show. Williams is also the founder of Politically Unapologetic, a blog where she unabashedly discusses culture, life and love. Follow @itsmelashaun on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook.