Toys Old and New

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Technology
Tags: ,

By Cara-Lee Scheun

Seems like only yesterday I had my Barbie dolls, doll house and baking equipment for mud pies all put away. Saving the toys, those which were still useable, for any of my cousins. At last my cousins were old enough for me to baby-sit them, and it was time for my old toys to come out again. But I could not have been any more wrong.

As they arrived I told them about all my old toys and how fun it was going to be to play with them again. They looked at me and said, “We are not babies, we don’t play with dolls”.  I asked, “well, what do you play with then?” and they immediately showed me their MP4 digital game station. This thing could play music, DVD’s, take photos and had multiple games on it. I am about 15 years older than them, and I don’t even have something like that, not even to mention when I was 5 years old.

I suddenly realised how the toys have changed over such a short period of time, from playing with simple, yet practical and entertaining toys, to electrical and computerised devices. In my days, children played with dolls and made the dolls’ clothes from leftover material. They also baked mud pies with empty tins and buckets, swung yo-yo’s, and the boys played with their Matchbox toy cars and threw nailspinners. We could play for hours and even days with the same things. Today however, children have so many game stations such as Playstations, Xbox and Wii. They have portable DVD players and MP3 players with more memory than some laptops, not to mention the endless games and programmes on the computers which children have access to so easily.

I ask how this is possible, but the worst part of it all is probably the fact that these 5 or 7 year old kids know how to operate all these devices, and when it breaks, they are more than likely to know how to fix it. Could it be that children have more knowledge about something than an educated grownup?

Apparently it is. No wonder so many children prefer to stay home and play by themselves, rather than to go on a camping trip with friends. Another question comes to mind while imagining how children would rather spend hours inside the house alone. Could this perhaps have some negative impact on them, or does this obsession with technology give children more benefits?

Looking on a brighter side of things, children perhaps do benefit from learning how to manage technological devices from such a young age. They will keep up to date with the latest new technology and how these things work, which will give them a huge advantage for the future, seeing as we are  moving towards the ‘Information Age’. Another positive point could also be that they will always have a passion for something. It could be computers, games, information, news, or science topics.  The Internet will give them more information and knowledge on any subject.

While using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Mxit, children quickly learn the basic principles of network ethics and how to communicate more efficiently over the network. Technology is also a good way to keep children busy, not just to entertain them, but also to help them learn. Educational DVDs and games are available everywhere and they actually seem to be working. What child would choose to read a book rather than watching a DVD?

Parents are also enjoying the use of technology. Though some don’t understand it, they are enthusiastic about its benefits, see more on http://cloudvideos.tangle.com/db2af2a0f83f348ee423fcc85759e95d.flv.

To every good thing there is always a bad side, and unfortunately with technology the disadvantages are more severe than one would imagine. Something called ‘technology overdose’ is a new term which has been in the news quite frequently these days. People suffering from a technology overdose have done exactly what the name implies, such as the 33-year-old widow from Germany who was addicted to a game on the Internet. For six months she was neglecting her dogs and children who is 10 and 13 years old, because she was playing the game. When the police came she said she let the dogs starve and killed them so she could play the game without interruptions. She was sentenced to jail and not allowed to own a computer or animals again.

Another case is of Samantha Flexington who is 13 years old. When she started to send more than 2000 text messages a day her parents got worried and shut down her phone between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Samantha started to slam doors, broke things in the house and shouted at everyone around her. Her parents knew she needed help, but it was already too late. She tried to send texts with any phone or mobile device she could get. When no one was replying she went into a state of depression.

In both these cases, technology has started to take over their lives. With so many technologies available today and children using it freely, the future of the children does not look too good. In a recent study it showed that children use technology for over seven hours a day, which is an hour more than five years ago. Only three out of ten parents have set rules for children on the use of technology. Boundaries need to be set. Even though some parents think their children are learning more by using the Internet and watching television, it does not have a good influence on children. They are still in their developing stage and very vulnerable to getting addicted to things so easily, like the boy who shaved off his hair, so he doesn’t have to wash it anymore and could spend that time on his iTouch.

Thinking back now, it seems as if we were satisfied with so little, and now children barely have one toy without a mechanical element to it. The truth is that the world is changing and so is the next generation, and we can only hope for a positive outcome. But we as family and friends could keep going on our camping trips, teaching the younger children about games played outside and how to take initiative to build their own toys. Parents need to spend time with their children and not just shoving them in front of the television. This is something we all need to do to avoid total anti-social behaviour which could lead to depression so easily. What will become of our world and children if they are constantly depressed because they don’t have any human contact? The world will soon be a ‘cyber space’ and every conversation will be conducted via technology.

Ten warning signs of technology addiction:

1.      You forget to do basic body functions

You don’t wash your hair, go to the toilet or even eat.

2.      You collect ridiculous accessories

A couch with an armrest for your phone or laptop made out of real leather is not really necessary.

3.       You check your email on Sunday at 4 a.m.

No one is going to come home from a club and send you an email that time of the morning.

4.       You know your friends by their online ‘names’, rather than their real names

Calling your friends ‘Psycho Bot’ as opposed to Peter-Bob is not a good thing.

5.        Your favorite song goes “beep”

When your cell phone or email ringtone is your favourite song, you definitely need to get out more.

6.        Instead of laughing, you say ‘LOL’

Using shorthand descriptions to express your emotions is never a good sign.

7.         You answer your mobile phone when you’re on a date

If you are on your dream date, your cyberspace friend could wait a few hours until the next ‘LAN’ session.

8.          You change their ‘outfits’ depending on their ‘mood’

If your technology has more clothes or accessories than you, or even matching outfits, your human friends might get jealous. Or not.

9.           You speak in a secret language

If you use an encrypted language all the time which you and your cyberspace friends use, you might have a small obsession.

10.         You choose holiday destinations based on Wi-Fi availability

If you refuse to go somewhere without Wi-Fi availability, you should start thinking about cutting back on some of your techno hours.

Other cool links to see:

Learn more about mobistories on http://www.squidoo.com/digitalbooks

It’s not just child play anymore:   

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