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Let kids be kids

| Sunday, September 27, 2015

For one of my psychology classes this semester, I have the opportunity to spend time in the Early Childhood Development Center (ECDC) on campus. For the class, we are required to spend 75 minutes in a classroom once a week to observe a child of our choice and write a case study at the end of the term.

Being in the ECDC has been an eye-opening experience. While I have observed my chosen buddy’s behavior, I have realized some of the greatest things about being four years old again.

The other day I sat at the coloring table, picked up a whale stencil, grabbed a fresh Crayola marker and traced it. Then I asked one of my little friends to help me decorate it. We had so much fun adding polka dots and a smile to the whale that I traced another whale, then another and another. The stress about an upcoming exam and the 60 pages of reading I had to do that night melted away with each whale. The only worry I had was that I wouldn’t be able to finish coloring because my 75 minutes were almost up.

Youngsters also get to take naps, read the books they want to read and, most importantly, be naïve.

The innocence of childhood is becoming a thing of the past. Kids are getting cell phones at younger and younger ages and pushing Legos aside for iPad apps.

Kids need to be kids for a long enough time to allow their brains to develop properly. I understand it is convenient to put an iPad in front of your child but staring at a screen isn’t letting their imagination flow and doesn’t help their decision-making skills.

Because kids have access to technology at younger ages, children are able to find things on the Internet that are too mature for them, which destroys their innocence. If today’s youth didn’t have as much permission to use the Internet, I honestly believe there would be less acting out, underage drinking, etc.

Sometimes I want to go back to being oblivious to the world and the negative news you hear as soon as you walk through the door of adulthood, but I know that’s not possible. I want to believe in Santa Claus again and not know what the latest terrorist act is.

So here is my challenge: Let kids be kids. Limit their usage of technology and have them spend more time outside and play with simple toys like blocks, trucks and stencils. If kids ask about current events or mature topics, parents should be honest but gentle. Communicate with them at a level they understand. Preserve their innocence and enjoy it before the angst of teenaged years hit.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Alex Winegar

A junior at Saint Mary's, Alex is a Communicative Sciences and Disorders major. She serves as the Saint Mary's co-associate news editor. Alex enjoys traveling, food and spending time in "The Mitten."

Contact Alex