Summer fun in the sun: Childhood games of yesteryear vs.playtime today
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Summer fun in the sun: Childhood games of yesteryear vs.playtime today

New York City : NY : USA | Jun 04, 2012 at 11:07 AM PDT
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A woman plays with an XBOX game console

As the summer sun begins to heat up, parents frantically search for camps, internships, volunteer programs, childcare, and entertainment for their children of all ages.

For those who live in the four-season parts of the globe, the few balmy months are the time of sunny fun and outdoor games. At least it was with our generation, but today's youth have so many electronic gadgets at their fingertips that getting them outside and moving can be a challenge.

What with the Play Station game systems, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, XBox, cellphones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the rest of the Internet, television, cellphones and the myriad of tech toys we parents unwittenly ply our offspring with, many have developed an aversion to the outdoors. We cannot lay all the blame at their video clicking frenetic thumbs, for we are the ones purchasing these items.

The sedentary tech games (except for Wii) have an adverse effect on our children's weight, which subsequently affect their health. Obesity is on the rise and illnesses like diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and others start in childhood.

Schools have eliminated daily gym or outside play and this has exacerbated the problem. Where I grew up, there was only one boy I recall being obese and that was because of medical problems. He was outside as much as the rest of the kids in the village, trying hard to join in the games we played.

Remember some of those games and activities? Designed for all occasions, rain or shine, indoors or outdoors? Some of my favorite outdoor, sunny day games were hopscotch, marbles, jump-rope, footsie, tug-of-war, round doves, cricket, soccer, ring-a-ring-a-roses, just to name a few.

Kite-flying, was a national tradition at Easter, with both grown-ups and children alike competing to see whose kite was the biggest, most colorful, highest flying spectacle in the sky.

Some seriously enjoyable athletics for family, church or school picnic day were the three-legged race, bag race, lime-and-spoon, egg and wheelbarrow race, along with the obstacle course.

Those that could be played both inside and out were jacks, paper-and-string games that didn't even have names but we relished playing regardless. Paper games like "boy, girl, eat drink" where we had to find words beginning in different letters of the alphabet within a few minutes. If the letter was Z, then we had to write the name of a boy, girl, animal, country, something to eat and drink all beginning in "Z."

Then there was "I Spy," a favorite for when those stormy days emptied a deluge of rain too heavy to play outside. If the rain wasn't heavy and accompanied by lightning and thunder, we would play in it--another source of innocent, uninhibited fun.

But there were those hurricane-like windy and rainy days, perfect for indoor imaginative play. The paper folded in little parts of squares with hidden words written on them was one of the fun games for any kind of weather. Players got to pick a color between red, blue, green, yellow and were at the mercy of what was hidden inside the folded flaps!

The string games were played by making intricate shapes with strings around our fingers, which could be magically untangled and board games like snakes and ladders and checkers. I grew up on an island, so to me childhood meant reading, dreaming, exploring, running, jumping, climbing, swimming. We were always in motion for we didn't have the distraction and sensory overload of the World Wide Web, including social media, video games or even television. [we were too poor to afford luxuries like TV]!'.

We as parents could turn off the television, unplug the electronics and introduce our kids of all ages to these fun "past-times." You might be surprised how much fun our tech babies have "plugging" into these kinds of games. Give it a try.

Can you come up with some more of your own childhood games where an LED screen is not necessary and all it takes is your imagination to have hours of fun?

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VeronicaS is based in New York City, New York, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.
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