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Promoting Social or Anti-Social Behavior?

July 22, 2012

What really happened? When did the paradigm shift occur? And what is going to happen next? These are some of the questions going through my mind as I try to recall how it all started …. Let’s travel down memory lane together.

Flashback to over 25 years ago <<< <<< <<<

I remember when I was growing up I had a real childhood; where I used to play outside with handmade toys and with real friends; burnt a lot of calories running around, and when I got home in the evening, I’d get beaten by my parents because of going back home dirtier than a pig…. Those days we didn’t have OMO with power foam so part of the reason for being beaten is because Mom was wondering what she would use to clean those whites.

There was no insecurity on the streets; no concern that there was some sick minded pedophile somewhere waiting to prey on the younglings playing outside; the street lights functioned properly; the estate roads were clean with no signs of portholes; the garbage truck (Kameru as it was called) used to come regularly and on time to collect garbage from the estate … the environment was simply conducive for kids to grow up in.

We used to hold competitions between one Estate court and another, and though we never used to give out trophies, the very thought of being called “Bingwa” in whatever game was enough to make you feel like an Olympic champion. Some of the games we played included Shake, Kalongo, Rounders, Bludder, Kati, Statue, among others.  If you played these games, then clearly you are truly Old School and must be not less than 37 years of age right now…. As usual, I digress.... :-)

We didn’t have 24-hour TV channels or FM Stations; I remember my best program was Sundowner on the then Voice Of Kenya. And as for TV, anyone remembers how we used to sit in front of the TV at a few minutes to 6pm waiting for those blue, green, yellow & white lines to appear on the screen? That was a signal that the TV station was getting ready to start airing its programs for the day… but only until mid-night latest. Unlike today, the programs aired then were clean enough for you to watch with your grandparents… unlike today! And Musically speaking, songs made sense then. Not this crazy stuff being produced nowadays… Goodness!

Our main mode of communication then was letters and Phone booths; in case you are wondering, on this side of the world (East Africa) those years only the elite could afford house phones. Let’s not even talk about cell phones; those were un-heard of!!! (I think the only one allowed to have one then was the president!). And as for Internet…. now that was an unknown animal …. We never had chat rooms then; we had penpals. Anyone remember those?

Fast forward to the present >>> >>> >>>

Then about ten years ago Technology evolved to the extent that Internet became easily available to not just organizations, but also to individuals. Public phone booths were replaced by easily accessible house-phones. Fixed terrestrial phone lines soon got competition from mobile solutions, and before long, the ball game totally changed. Now Internet is no longer a luxury but a commodity; its no longer a rarity but the norm.

Technology has changed our lifestyles nowadays. Whereas as kids we used to play real games that made us sweat and burn calories, nowadays our kids just sit at home and play video games from morning till evening, while eating all the junk they can lay their hands on. Those days we used to eat “mahindi ya kuchoma with pilipili" - a delicacy!, kashata and other non-fattening “snacks”, sold by the roadside.  Instead of playing real games with real boys/girls of their age, on real soil/sand, the current generation of kids spends all their time playing with virtual opponents on PS2/3 systems or video games on Tv screens, laptops and/or computers.

I pity these kids because they will never know the real joy of being creative at a young age; making a ball from a collection of different colored plastic paper bags will definitely not sound like a great idea to the boy child neither will using rugs to make a doll look like an appealing idea to the girl child of this generation. Afterall, why bother when Mummy and Daddy can rush to the nearest mall to buy them the latest car toys and Barbie dolls? 

This brings me to the one question that has been bothering me a lot lately; what generation of children are we bringing up? With the kind of lifestyles we have created for them, are we teaching them to be social or anti-social beings? Dependent or independent? Innovative or just plain un-resourceful? Is there anything as parents we can we do differently to change this? Like someone said recently, the current generation will never know the co-relation between a pen and cassette… how would they, when they were born in the era of MP3 players and CDs?  

In my opinion, I believe the childhood I had has shaped me to be the independent and creative person I am today. At a very young age, I learnt how to be innovative and make do with the little resources I had and still have a fulfilling day. I didn’t have video games and rubber dolls, but I had real friends and played real games from handmade toys, with my real friends….

What are the highlights of your childhood? Please share with us....

Now, that we've looked at the kids, what do you think of the generation of parents we have now?  Part two of this post will address the parents ….  

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