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What is Leisure?
Patterns of Leisure: Technologies Impact
A child's leisure experiences, particularly in their early years, are often a direct reflection of the values and preferences of the parents and other family members, as well as teachers and friends. We all know or at least can reasonably guess at the amount of peer pressure that will be exerted on your child when he or she becomes a teenager! If you are concerned about your child's leisure future, you are not alone. The expression "it takes a community to raise a child" is especially true when talking about the leisure future of children - all children.
Consider, for example, the high tech reality of today's play options versus the low tech varieties you had as a child.
Children having fun in a go-cart.
Technology has a huge impact on the type of recreation pursued by children today. Now information about anything in the world can be accessed over the internet instantly. Telephones smaller than a child's fist, which are wireless, take pictures and videos, play games, and allow instant communication anytime of day. Video games, so realistic that you can almost touch the figures on the TV monitor replace board games, comic books, and Saturday morning cartoons.
Shift to Indoors
Today children seem to be more keenly interested in the indoor activities such as watching television, playing video games and surfing the internet. According to a recent article in USA Today, "the shift to an indoor childhood has accelerated in the past decade with a huge decline in spontaneous outdoor activities" (Cacuchon, 2005). Games of pick-up basketball, tree climbing, and kick the can have nearly vanished, and the negative results can be seen in children's bodies and in their minds (Cacuchon, 2005). France Kuo, director of the Human Environment Research Laboratory, reports that studies show children who spend lots of time outdoors have longer attention spans than children who engage in indoor pursuits (as cited in Cauchon, 2005). Additionally, childhood obesity has sky rocketed from four percent of children in the 1960s to 16% of children today according to the Center for Disease Control.
Decline in Recreation Activities
Decline in activity of 7 to 11 year olds from 1995 to 2004:
It is more than technology that keeps children indoors. Heavy traffic and reports of crime reported daily in the media can deter parents from allowing their children to engage in unsupervised activities. There is hope however, as families can instill values of leisure in their children to aid them in choosing wholesome activities which are not only stimulating for the child, but also enable them to learn, gain, and demonstrate skills that will benefit the child through out their lifetime.
Families can aid their children in participating in meaningful leisure pursuits.
Parents want their child to pursue healthful alternatives, and through community center sports, drop-in opportunities and related programs sponsored by churches, scouts, 4-H, and Boys and Girls Clubs, safe opportunities for children to get away from the influence of video games and television, and find activities that will promote self-discovery and growth are available.
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Copyright 2006, The Trustees of Indiana University and Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
This online resource has been created through a collaborative project of the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) with content and design development by the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) and the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. This project is funded through a grant from the Division of Human Development and Disability at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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