Opinion

MITCHELL' MUSINGS: Get outside and live

Welcome to Unplug and Play Week in the North Okanagan. A great idea and a community project of the North Okanagan Optimist Club in partnership with the Early Years Council and the Vernon School District.

Many community-minded businesses, including this one, are also contributing to the cause and in case you missed it there was a wonderful 12-page supplement in last week’s Morning Star that you can still get in many locales, including here at the newspaper.

The main idea is, like the front page says, - Kids Having Fun!!

I don’t know if two exclamation points were necessary but they are trying to get the point across that kids today need more exercise, more outside everything, more unstructured activity and just generally more time away from the computers and smart phones and other electronic devices that dominate their lives with untold consequences for society down the road.

Now I’m not going to get all self-righteous about kids these days being addicted to video games and such because, one, I understand the attraction, and two, it’s not like I spent all my youth doing constructive and healthy activities.

I’d hate to add up the hours I spent playing Strat-O-Matic baseball, usually by myself, and then more countless hours figuring out batting averages and ERAs, of which I just found out one of my kids has no idea how to figure out so, ultimately, I’ve failed him.

In fact I enjoyed working with baseball numbers so much, even my own from my minor baseball career, I once thought I might want to go into accounting. I actually tried studying it at school until I found out it wasn’t as much fun as baseball stats and bailed pretty quickly.

I also spent way too many hours watching TV after school, which makes me an expert at Brady Bunch trivia (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia) and a bit of an expert on the long-gone soap opera Another World (why I watched that I’ll never know but I guess because it was on at 4 p.m. and it was better than whatever was on the other channel...I wonder how Mac and Rachel are doing anyway?).

However I also played minor baseball, minor football, a bit of minor hockey and a major amount of classical guitar lessons, although don’t ask me to play anything beyond Jingle Bells, although one day I will once again pick up my old Yamaki and play Camptown Ladies once again (a classic of a different kind).

What we also did as kids was get together and play stuff. Like touch football at VSS, or road hockey at the Lakeview pool (of course in the off season without water and we had to climb the fence) and even kick the can on occasion.

So we had to organize it (my big brother was pretty good at that), convince people to come, keep it clean (well most of the time, a few bloody noses along the way) and all with no parental input at all (we might have told them where we were and what we were doing but there was less anxiety back then and as long as we made it back in time for dinner...).

My kids played minor sports and even read a few books, the old-fashioned way and with a lot of prompting by their old man on occasion, but they did spend too much time in front of a screen as well. However I understand the attraction of NHL 04 through NHL 14, and is it that much different than Strat-O-Matic Baseball, except it’s a screen instead of a board and the game figures out stats on its own?

Still, I felt better when they actually went outside and shot hoops or even got 12 to 15 guys together for a roaring road hockey game in the cul-de-sac, just like the old days.

I think our kids, for the most part, do an amazing job of balancing social media, school, sports, friends, peer pressure etc, and we fret about them way too much (likely like our parents did, as well). But having said that, they do have their heads down way too often looking at a screen that sometimes may seem like it’s bringing the world to you. Technology ironically expands our world and narrows it at the same time.

The real world and all it offers at this time of year, and the real people that live in it, await you and all you have to offer. So get unplugged, lift your head up and have fun. You’ll be glad you did.

 

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