Kids spend more time in a virtual, instead of a natural world

Although I passed the half-century mark a few years back, I still believe I was a kid during the modern era. Sure, I remember dialing only four numbers to call a friend, but the fact that I actually 'dialed' a phone, rather than pushed buttons, is likely a better indication of my current technological prowess. I guess what really dates me is that I watched the original moonwalk, 25 years before Michael Jackson performed it.

I remember returning home after school in hopes of watching Gunsmoke or Superman on one of the only two television channels that had reception. My mother would have none of it and regularly booted us out of the house, "Be sure to be home by dark," she would add before shuffling us along, "And have fun!" Out the door we'd go and head down the street to find something to do. Occasionally, we actually indulged in constructive recreation such as fishing, hiking, biking or BB gun wars. Depending upon the season, there were always a few 'not so constructive' options such as tossing apples, pumpkins or snowballs off the town hill.

Sure, we knew right from wrong, but the risks of getting caught simply added to the excitement. Besides, in a small town, we recognized the locals and avoided pegging snowballs at a neighbor's car, but Lord help the poor trucker, who happened to be traveling along Route 9 in the early evening. In a single pass, his rig would appear as if he had plowed through the community's gardens, which we had usually plundered for ammunition.

Good or bad, such experiences defined my generation. For the most part, we did it all outdoors, in all seasons and in all types of weather. Our small acts of rural terrorism occasionally included a late night dip in a neighbor's swimming pool, which rarely caused any permanent damage. It was good, clean fun and it was always accomplished outdoors with little adult supervision. We shot bb guns, rode mini-bikes and actually stayed out after dark (without the protection of a cell phone) and lived to tell about it.

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