What a thought-provoking video:
ad shows several grandparents reminiscing about their childhood fun outside — tobogganing, planting, fishing — and then several parents recalling that they’d build forts, or just head out to find friends to play with. Finally, their kids talk about their love of videogames andÂ texting.
The ad then shows those same kids after what can only be called an intervention. We see them running outside (toward a waiting parent), carefully riding a bike on the sidewalk, or being taught by mom how to plant a flower. (That kid did not look psyched to me.)
It’s great that the ad has framed the issue we talk about here all the time: In just one generation, it has become almost bizarre to see kids heading out to find fun on their own outside. That’s why people call 911 when the see a child in the park. It’s like spotting a tapir escaped from the zoo. Kudos to Nature Valley for encouraging kids to get outside!
But as this note, uh, notes:
One of the things I noticed is that in the previous generations memories there were no adults present and the children created wonderful memories. In the current generation’s outdoor play portrayed in the video there were adults present in almost all of the depictions. It pretty much says that outdoor play is necessary but must be supervised and lead by an adult. — Marcie
Considering thatÂ even Sesame Street can no longer endorse its older, more Free-Ranging episodes — a video of highlights from its early years says, “These early â€˜Sesame Streetâ€™ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of todayâ€™s preschool child” — it’s not surprising that Nature Valley would have to do the same.
But beyond even the perceived need for supervision, the adults outside with their kids at the end of this ad seem almost as if they’re teaching a remedial class. And it is hard to have fun when it’s so…unnatural. No 9-year-old is going to come home from school and then burst outside again, bright-eyed and eager, for the chance to run 50 feet to his mom.
So what is the answer? Nature Valley and Free-Range Kids both want the same thing (well, we don’t care if we sell granola bars): A groundswell of kids outside, so that when one kid goes out, he or she is sure to soon find another to play with. And with the renormalization of kids running around, the threat of CPS intervention disappears.
Not that I think time spent on videogames or texting is all wasted. I don’t. I certainly spend most of my time online. Just that it’s great for kids to also have time that is out in the world, on their own, creating, running, smelling, climbing, organizing…
To that end, perhaps yesterday’s post holds the key. The way to get kids outside is to appeal not to nostalgia but to the desire to make sure our kids succeed. As Mariana Brussoni, the author of a study on the importance of “risky”play, said:
With parents, I can tell them thereâ€™s a one-in-14-million-chance that their kids will get kidnapped. I can tell them their kids are more likely to get hit in a car than out of it, and it has very little impact. What influences parents is the research showing how a lack of ability to take risks affects their childâ€™s development, health and well-being.
Unsupervised play is the key. Parents have to realize it is the super-vitamin kids need. And kids need to see that the outdoors is their…videogame, another world they can escape to — with or without a granola bar in their pocket. Any further suggestions as to how to make this happen are most welcome! – L.
I suppose I can’t argue against a nice family walk through the woods or gardening with Mom, but you’re absolutely right that the comparison between the generation’s stories is quite off. I’m sure Nature Valley meant well, but free-ranging can’t even be encouraged properly by the media.
I’ve been wondering if maybe part if the problem is that there are so fewer natural areas than there used to be. My son is only 4, so he’s too little at this point to wander on his own anyway, but looking at my neighborhood (suburban Orlando), where would he even wander to? There is a park walkable, but he finds it boring even now and it is very rare to see other kids there (though I have seen unsupervised kids there a few times, so that’s promising). There’s a golf course nearby. But other than that there is not a single “natural” area anywhere near here, not so m7ch as an aband one lot. So how can he even have the same kind of childhood I did when there aren’t any un-static green spaces for him to play unsupervised? My husband and I are hoping to move within the next 3-5 years and this is definitely something I will be keeping in mind if we look for a new place, but I imagine this is an issue for lots of kids across the country.
Speaking of commercials, I saw this one, I think, during the Home Run Derby the other night: http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7v2d/chevrolet-traverse-which-child.
I damn near threw a show through the flat screen.
I am reminded of ‘Sophie’s Choice.’ Assuming their age, the writers of this commercial have probably never seen the movie. Being that the commercial immediately brought to my mind the penultimate scene in that movie, I’m surprised that no one brought it to their attention. And now I equate the Chevrolet representative in the commercial with a Nazi.
Megan, me too, as I commented yesterday. We are in a semi-rural area, but near major roads and such. There is nowhere my daughter could really go. There are patches of woods on our street but to get to them you’d have to get a bushwhacker or machete to get through all the kudzu and poison ivy. As for other kids, there is only one little boy next door and he’s hardly ever outside and when he is one of his parents usually is too. I’ve been gradually trying to let mine go into the backyard by herself. She has been taught to stay there and not go into the street in front of our house. She’s only three so I don’t think she’s ready to be wandering around quite yet, but when she is there isn’t any real place for her to go.
At the end of the ad, a lady says, “A special connection with nature is innate in all children, but it needs to be nurtured.” I figured that’s what those parents were doing….nurturing the connection. I didn’t see it as hovering.
How has it come to this? That our “communities” are laid out in such a way that there is nowhere to walk to beyond the end of our driveway? What has changed since the pre-WWII days? I grew up in a suburb of Milwaukee, built in the 20s-ish, I could walk to a library, which was across from a junior h.s., which was a mere 5 blocks away from a grade school and high school. The street connecting them is a major street but with sidewalks and boulevard on both sides and houses close to the street. A major parkway is bikeable and was, in the 80s, used a LOT and had exercise stations. For the public. For the benefit of PUBLIC LIFE. Our civic leaders, heck, even we citizens have really gone astray.
“One of the things I noticed is that in the previous generations memories there were no adults present and the children created wonderful memories. In the current generationâ€™s outdoor play portrayed in the video there were adults present in almost all of the depictions.”
“But beyond even the perceived need for supervision, the adults outside with their kids at the end of this ad seem almost as if theyâ€™re teaching a remedial class.”
From the text, it seems like a remedial class is what is required; these are kids who don’t know how to go outside and make their own fun. Without guidance, sending the kids outside is going to mean that they’re sitting motionless, playing a GameBoy or playing a game on their phone, only outside instead of inside. If you want results that are different from that, you have to point them in the right direction.
“How has it come to this? That our â€œcommunitiesâ€ are laid out in such a way that there is nowhere to walk to beyond the end of our driveway?”
I don’t know how it is in your area, but around here, the suburban construction pattern has been just the opposite in the last 15-20 years. We get big houses built on tiny lots, with “greenspaces” in the center. Apartment communities are designed the same way, except that instead of big houses build really close to each other, you get big apartment buildings instead.
The even more recent trend has been towards “mixed use” development… buildings that have retail, restaurant, or professional offices at the ground floor level, and apartments on top, with access to mass transit.
The destruction of infrastructure for the pedestrian is not a recent development. It’s laid out in “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs which was written in 1961. In her book, she lays out guidelines for things like the width of sidewalks and how that translates to healthier neighborhoods among many other things. Interestingly, she argues most parks fail because they are typically designed for one demographic, i.e. small children or business men. Because of this, parks tend to become more of a refuge for transients, or can become more dangerous because they are empty. People are much less likely to do illegal activities when there are other people around that can call the police.
Megan- I would argue that a child doesn’t necessarily need to have a park or nature to wander. This whole website was founded by Lenore who let her child “wander” through the city of New York. A child who knows his neighborhood or his little corner of the city, also knows the various people that populate it. Unsupervised doesn’t have to mean alone. I’m thinking about kids playing on a sidewalk with people are walking by. They are unsupervised directly, but that doesn’t mean that if something went wrong, then somebody would be there. (By the way, I’m all for going out alone in the forest and green things and playing.)
“We are in a semi-rural area, but near major roads and such. There is nowhere my daughter could really go.”
At 3, your child doesn’t really have much of anywhere to go. Driving to playgrounds isn’t ideal but isn’t inherently bad, either.
You’re mistake is in assuming that all your child’s forays into the world start from home, and in a couple of years, that won’t be true. Schoolchildren can, and often do, start from school, and go to other children’s homes to play.
This is where their great-great grandchildren are headed:
@ Megan – I can’t speak for your neighborhood specifically, but kids don’t see spaces the same way adults do. When I was a kid, my sister and I set up “houses” in the gaps between the bushes that separated our yard from the next one; my friend’s daughter used to vanish for hours and was found in a “reading hole” (her term) she’d made by propping branches against the side of the garage; my nephews play rowdy ball games in the parking lot of the local office compound on weekends when it’s empty. My apartment building forms a cul-de-sac around a small parking lot, and there are usually several kids playing kickball or riding bikes in it during the day, when most of the cars are gone.
Just because there aren’t parks doesn’t mean there’s nowhere to go; kids who are allowed to explore will find all the secret places a grown-up will never notice.
The twitter into to this story says “Does it work to take kids outside and say, “This is fun!” ?”
That’s a pretty solid question. It sort of seems like it would get some serious eye rolling. And I think it was in “Last Child in the Woods” that I read that forcing teens outside tends to result in basically ‘okay that was sort of cool, now let’s never do that again.’
I also saw a well rated joke picture on a sight mostly frequented by teens. It showed a PlayStation and flat screen set out on a porch labeled “Mom said to go play outside.”
Younger kids are more flexible, and perhaps some remedial lessons are in order. After all kid culture as it relates to nature isn’t in great shape. I don’t know how the remediation will go. Some kids undoubtedly will take better to it than others.
But I’ve already seen a gaggle of kids (no adult) with a bucket and a net headed toward a local stream. And that is promising. Perhaps if each child learned one or two things, about enjoying the outdoors. Perhaps together they could revive the experience in their own way.
“Unsupervised doesnâ€™t have to mean alone.”
Yes, this. And it doesn’t even have to mean that you are that far away.
Let me relate a lesson I used to use when I taught IT. There are two basic methods of sharing information, which are known as “polling” or “interrupts” To illustrate the difference, let us assume a simple problem. I would like to know if there is a person standing on my porch, holding an oversized check for $10,000,000, because I have won the PUblisher’s Publishing House sweepstakes. I do not want them to decide that I don’t want the prize! One method I could use is “polling”. Every five minutes or so, I can put down what I’m doing, go to the door, and open it, to see if the Prize Van is parked in front of my house and the Prize Spokesman is standing there with the oversized check. If I use this “polling” method, I can be sure that, whenever they arrive, the Prize Patrol staff won’t have to wait more than 5 minutes before I open the door and tell them I want the money. Of course, this is not what I do. What I do instead is utilize the “interrupt” method. I install a signalling device near the door, by which the Prize Patrol can signal inside the house that they are at the door. Any time I am not hearing the signaling device, I know that the Prize Patrol is NOT at the door, and I may proceed with whatever task it is that I am occupied with at the time.
So… “polling” makes sense when there is a lot activity that needs my attention. Busy businesses, for example, often employ a receptionist to engage in polling-style operations… The receptionist is stationed at the door, and responds to everyone as soon as they come in. The rarer the need for attention, the more switching to an interrupt model starts to make sense. (Of course, you can have intermediate steps… many a reception desk has a little bell on it with a sign that says “ring bell for service”)
So, what does this have to do with THIS website? Small children need supervision. As they grow older, they actually need less and less supervision. This means that a polling model is applicable to infants and toddlers.. Later, however, an interrupt model is appropriate, wherein children signal when they need parental assistance with something, and parents can assume that if they aren’t being asked for assistance, the child does not require any (some restrictions apply). It seems there’s a lot of people who don’t know either when or how to make that transition.
However, I don’t believe it’s a generational issue. I think there’s always been tension between parents who favored the goal of creating independent children, and parents who favored sheltering children.
@Andrea Drummond: Your daughter is still young yet, but from what you describe in your post above and other the other thread, there is a lot for your daughter to explore! The things that you see as too dangerous now (which I would agree are for a 3-year-old) are all things that an 8 or 9 year old is perfectly capable of handling. So the next few years you teach her how get around, what’s safe and what’s dangerous, how to identify poison ivy, how to cross the street (but not to if she is not allowed), and then 5 years from now, she’ll be ready to have friends over to roam the neighborhood.
No one lives in a “perfect” safe place for kids to play — there are going to be hazards wherever you live, so no need to feel guilt about it (ours happen to be living one block from two very busy streets, cars that race down our street and ignore stop signs, and train tracks; but others live in what look like a perfect safe suburban Pleasantville neighborhoods but have to deal with serious heroin abuse issues). The key is teaching your child how to navigate the hazards of your particular neighborhood, not locking her inside so she never encounters them.
This breaks my heart, especially b/c my son has been watching way too many screens this summer. We do have natural areas near us, but he has no friends near enough to us. That I think is what’s changed. Kids have play dates now. They don’t meet the kids in the neighborhood. There are no boys in our immediate neighborhood near his age (and he mostly does not want to hang out w/ girls), but would it have been different if I had been able to stay at home and could just send him out to meet the kids or, when he was younger, go out with him and meet the neighbors myself beyond the ones next door and across the street.
I think neighborhoods used to be (or used to seem) more established. I lived in the same house my mom grew up in so there was a whole second generation of kids playing there. Everyone had known everyone else for 30-40 years. I could never create that now.
@ Joan: “kids who are allowed to explore will find all the secret places a grown-up will never notice.” Very true. My siblings and I used to play along all kinds of edges of vacant lots and parking lots, as well as along the hiking trail near our house. One of the things we used to do that maximized our space was bring along tiny plastic animals to play with. We used to build them miniature houses and farms and such, which made a few square feet seem like a huge park.
@ Megan and @Andrea Drummond, I think Joane is onto something that kids view it differently. My daughter has made her “bat cave” behind some shrubs. The little boy next door, who is sometimes outside alone, has enjoyed joining her in her ‘bat cave’. They also seem to get a lot of mileage (literally and figuratively) out of chasing each other all through the yards front and back and in and out of both houses. And the little boy next door who is sometimes outside alone… his parents take to free-range more naturally than I do. They are perfectly cool with the rule of have the kid in earshot. I just think neither he nor my daughter find it much fun to be outside alone.
I my childhood I spent countless hours in the yards and homes of friends with and without their parents home. And when the parents were around no one paid much attention to the other outside of meal times and special events. I only had one park in walking range as well … and friends made that fun long after it was boring on my own. One of my most sacred places when I was 7 was a stand of overgrown grass in the back yard, where I could lay down unseen, and be alone for what felt like as long as I wanted, looking only at the sky and the grass seeds arching over me, and pretend I was Laura Ingals Wilder on the prairie.
I also had natural areas that I went to later when I got older (with trails) and I agree loosing that takes away from the experience. But so much of my free range didn’t involve going anywhere particularly natural or special, nor always outside. But I had access to other kids my age, without adult intervention, and private secret places, and that counted for a lot.
Anyhow the Boy Scouts exist because even back when they were founded they worried that city kids didn’t get enough access to nature. So they had to be shown nature and taken out too nature. And there are a lot of grown scouts to speak to the value of that. So perhaps a little camping suplement can help fill the void. Not perfect… but a foot hold. And there are a lot of kids running free through camp grounds.
“I think neighborhoods used to be (or used to seem) more established. I lived in the same house my mom grew up in so there was a whole second generation of kids playing there. Everyone had known everyone else for 30-40 years. I could never create that now.”
There are places like that now. I live in one. Almost everyone’s related.
But in my earliest years (up to about age 9, when we moved), my family lived in a neighborhood that was new. It had been wide open spaces five years earlier, so we weren’t all related and didn’t all know each other previously. But it was a neighborhood with sidewalks and yards, and plenty of children (and dogs and cats) and it bordered on an elementary school everyone walked to, and used the school grounds for activities that required more space than our yards afforded. (The junior high and senior high kids had a few miles’ bus ride). Neighborhood cookouts were just about every weekend, weather permitting. Men had poker games in someone’s house once a week, and the women played (I think) partnership pinochle about as often. No “play dates”, we just went out and played, and there was always someone around.
Maybe it is just me but I feel like its hotter in our area now than when I was a kid. Like I was okay going outside in summer and don’t remember sweating to death. But anytime my kids go outside in summer they are drenched in sweat and are so hot they really are not enjoying themselves. They enjoy being outside in cool Spring or Fall weather or even Winter weather bundled up, but its so damn hot and humid here!
I can’t take it. They can barely take it. So all we do in summer is either go outside at Twilight when the sun is down or go to the pool and swim or have a water balloon or hose fight. But playing baseball? running around? outside in summer-no. Its just miserable.
thanks global warming.
My neighborhood is pretty childless. Either people are child-free, have newborns, or are retired. There is one girl who is two years younger than my daughter, and her parents are insane helicopters who follow her everywhere.
My best solution right now was to set up Skype, so that when my daughter plays Minecraft, she can interact with the other players in real life. She now has friends her age from all over the world, and her social skills are improving dramatically.
She trusts people and then they raid her base. They fight, and then she forgives them. She’s learning about other cultures, attitudes, and how to be a gracious winner AND loser. She’s learning how to work cooperatively in building projects. Her math, spelling, and spatial awareness have all increased at an amazing rate. She’s made more progress than she did in 4 years of special ed and private tutoring.
Of course computers are no replacement for the great outdoors, but until we move to a better neighborhood, having Skype has been our life saver – especially for a kid who CRAVES social interaction.
We’re moving to Israel in 2 weeks, and we can’t wait! She’ll have her Skype friends to help her adjust, until she can make some friends IRL. I’m sure that once she gets adjusted, she’ll be out of the house all the time. 🙂
SOA: Was it less hot, or was it just that you didn’t care because you were having fun? My son will be beet-red and dripping with sweat, but he doesn’t really seem to mind or notice as long as he’s engaged in what he’s doing. Sometimes I force him to come in a cool off for a few minutes and have some water, but left to his own devices, I doubt he would. The same goes in winter; if he’s having fun, he doesn’t really seem to care if he’s cold.
While the girl planting a flower did not look “psyched,” I wouldn’t say she looked bored or annoyed at what she was doing, She was focused, obviously engaged in planting the flower.
” Was it less hot, or was it just that you didnâ€™t care because you were having fun?”
Or was it that you didn’t have anything to compare to? If it’s not everywhere, it’s less noticeable than if, everytime you get in the car or go inside a building, it’s air-conditioned down to 72 degrees.
No green spaces.
Too much traffic.
Too many druggies.
Too many predators.
Too many Sasquatch.
All excuses. Sorry but that is what they are.
You’re spot on. I am sure there were times we were on the verge of heat stroke or exhaustion when we were kids.
In the winter I know we stayed out in weather, that did indeed drop our core temps. Frostbite happened, sunburns happened, cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains, dislocations, breaks and I am positive the odd concussion.
And the only downfall to getting hurt or sick was it meant we may not be allowed to go back out tomorrow. We didn’t care about anything but getting out there.
I think extensive use (and over use) of air conditioning has an impact. I came from cooler climates and found the vast majority of summer unbearable in my neighborhood. Total AC devotee. I have a friend who was always soon after me to call ‘too much’ and wrap outdoor activity. Then a few years back we had a terrible storm and our power was out for 4 of the worst days of summer. We stuck around, our friend got to a hotel.
After that our friend has always been the one to call the outdoor activity, because I’m not even starting to feel uncomfortable when my friend is feeling ready to collapse. Four days with no access to AC really changed how much heat it takes to bother me.
“Maybe it is just me but I feel like its hotter in our area now than when I was a kid. Like I was okay going outside in summer and donâ€™t remember sweating to death. But anytime my kids go outside in summer they are drenched in sweat and are so hot they really are not enjoying themselves. ”
Definitely an AC acclimation issue. We live in a newish house with no AC, and the trees are just getting big enough to make a difference in the house temp. Years ago I remember my son going to Scout camp, and all the others were “dying” of heatstroke, and my son was perfectly fine. When it gets really hot, the outside feels better than the inside, regardless of the actual temperature. The kids will naturally migrate to the outdoors, or we have a good excuse to abandon housework and spend the day at the nearest lake, and the electricity bill is much more affordable than running AC full time.
In our neighborhood the free range kids walk to each other’s houses, play in yards ride scooters or bikes and even play kickball in the street (like the good old days). Several families have basketball hoops in the street in front of their homes. I don’t think kids need “natural areas” to play outside near their homes, they just need to be allowed to venture out by themselves. Our neighborhood is an older development in the city limits, many of the residents have lived here for 40 years or more. They raised their kids here in the 60’s and 70’s and I think expect to see children out and about like in the past so no one calls the cops on kids!
I’m with Warren here. Let’s stop dreaming of the proper Free-range Kids – certified childhood playtime setting and let kids of all climates and locations do what they’ve always done.
“The key is teaching your child how to navigate the hazards of your particular neighborhood, not locking her inside so she never encounters them.”
The “perfect” neighborhood/house/family to raise a child is an urban myth. It doesn’t exist. Every environment has it’s hazards, even indoor, they-have-the-best-of-everything childproofed homes (see screen-addicted children in the video).
Plant a garden. It could be in a container on a deck. We added blueberry and blackberry bushes this year (2 of each to pollinate) and the blueberry picking reference touched home. My kids go in the garden daily to see what’s growing and ready to pick. They pick too much and I send them off to deliver it to neighbors. We got a warm loaf of homemade zucchini bread last week and it was delightful. Gardens, big and small, can be anywhere and are such a rewarding experience for young and old.
Find water. Streams, creeks, lakes, are great wild places to discover. We live on a golf course and the water traps are home to legendary catfish and are great for fishing. Since it’s peak summer with golf, the kids go at night or very early to avoid golfers. We also go to state parks each week, bring bikes, and let the kids explore the wilds. I’m usually home base or with the littles, wading in the water. The bigger kids go mountain biking or fishing on kayaks. I provide PBJ sandwiches, water, and sunscreen. Every time we get to the park, the kids always remark that we need to go there more often.
Even with a great free range neighborhood, we still have brutal winters here and face days trapped indoors, staring at screens, wishing for warmth. Still, we have ski gear for cold temps, but sometimes it’s just too damn cold to play outside. Now that summer’s here, I won’t listen to anyone complain about sunshine and hot temperatures. Find a shady creek, take off your shoes, and loose your worries. Try to be a kid.
I agree it very well could be the AC. but I had AC as a kid too and it still seems different.
Our yard was a lot shadier and we had woods to play in. Maybe that made a difference. Our freaking yard has no shade because the developers chopped down all real trees when building the houses and then planted new trees that are still not that big or great shade providers.
We love the pool in summer. But that is about the only outdoor time we get in summer unless its twilight or early morning when the sun is not blasting.
even just walking across a parking lot I feel like I am going to pass out. The head radiates up from the ashphalt. I hate it.
I was the lame mom that had to leave the amusement park last summer because even with drinking water the whole time I got heatstroke and was puking in the parking lot. I hate heat and humidity!
I wish it was like Spring or Fall all the time. Now that I could get used to. I love being outside when its like that. Summer though, cannot handle it anymore. Maybe I am just getting old.
“Find water.” — Solid advice there from lollipoplover.
Yes “Streams, creeks, lakes, are great wild places to discover.” But even lesser waters can be fun for kids.
My sister and her friends used to run out whenever it rained to splash in puddles. Certain gutters could get really exciting to me in a hard rain.
My 4 year old LOVES the downspout and also the gutters.
One of her most exciting days involved a fast snow melt on a steep section of street with streaming water carving tunnels under the snow. She spent what felt like forever poking the stream to watch the water go up over and around.
I gave her some paper recently and let her play in the outflow of the downspout. Her absolute delight when a sticker separated and was carried by the water into the grass was a joy to witness. A few pieces of scrap paper soaked to keep her happy from dinner until bed time.
Then there was is the big puddle that develops on the playground after a hard rain. Some kids apparently built a make shift bridge to the swings with fallen branches and grass clippings. My daughter tramped right in to the puddle proper shoes and all (a fact some older kids kindly pointed out to me). I told them she could continue. A few minutes later half a dozen older kids had their shoes off and had joined her in splashing and stirring up the mulch.
@Havva- My kids are obsessed with heavy rains. They put on their boots and raincoats and raid the recycling and build with duct tape racing boats to send down the street. They stay outside for hours racing trash boats! Used to think this was not my finest parenting moment, kids playing in storm waters with trash, but a few years ago I went to a parent teacher conference and the teacher was gushing about a paper my son wrote about these boat races. The other two friends (also in his class) wrote about the boat races also.
Nature can be our greatest teacher.
” I had AC as a kid too and it still seems different.”
What is now called air conditioning is akin to what was called refrigeration when you were a kid.
“â€ I had AC as a kid too and it still seems different.â€
What is now called air conditioning is akin to what was called refrigeration when you were a kid.”
I attended a university with many “historic” buildings, meaning most were built before air conditioning. The only buildings that had consistent air conditioning in the summertime were A) the computing center, and B) the Administration building. I live now in a house that doesn’t have AC. Every couple of years, we get a string of days where it gets really hot. Most of the daytime, I don’t care, I go to work in an air-conditioned building. But the house is well-insulated, so it gets hot during the day and then STAYS hot into the night.
Meanwhile, my dad retired to Arizona, and LOVES it when it’s hot… it means he can get the tee-time he wants from the various golf courses because the tourists won’t come outside.
I’ve done engineering contests not too different from that. Sounded like excellent parenting to me.
>>At the end of the ad, a lady says, â€œA special connection with nature is innate in all children, but it needs to be nurtured.â€ I figured thatâ€™s what those parents were doingâ€¦.nurturing the connection. I didnâ€™t see it as hovering.<<
Yes, exactly. The parents were there, but they weren't hovering; they were sharing a nice bonding experience with their kids. The kids didn't really know how to play outside, because they'd spent so much of their lives indoors in front of a screen. So, as a previous poster said, just sending those kids outside into an ambiguous green space, with no guidance, would result in the kids just sitting outside and playing on their phones and handheld gaming devices. Even if they were on a typical 2015 playground, some of the kids might play on the equipment, but a lot of them would probably just do the handheld-gaming thing, because in many cases, the current safety standards have resulted in dumbing down playgrounds to toddler level. So, the parents weren't supervising, per se; they were just giving the kids ideas; i.e., "I found this fun when I was young, so let's do it together." I think the goal here was to get the kids engaged in outdoor play, in order to encourage them to initiate it themselves, and play independently. We've seen the reverse situation on many occasions, where the "digital native" child shows the parent how to degrag the hard drive, or load their iPod with music, so I don't see this as being much different.
The other thing is, it's harder now to get kids to buy into the idea that outdoor/active/creative/non-screened play is fun, because from their perspective, it isn't, because, as kids' real lives have grown smaller due to infrastructure and paranoia over safety, video games have gotten more realistic, and therefore, more appealing. Let's say Johnny has a Playstation, with the latest incarnation of Tony Hawk Pro Skateboarding. He also has a real skateboard. There is a skate park, but it's not within walking distance, so he has to ask a parent to drive him, and it's really no fun without a friend. There's also a rule at the skate park that kids under twelve need to be supervised by an adult, and Johnny is only ten. Today, Johnny's dad is willing to take him to the skate park. So, Johnny texts his friends to join him, but they're all either busy with organized activities, or their parents won't take them. Johnny still wants to go, because maybe there'll be other kids there. Once at the skate park, he isn't able to master any of the cool tricks that he can do on-screen in the Tony Hawk game, because he makes it to the park so infrequently, he doesn't really get a chance to practice. So, dejectedly, he packs up his board, asks his dad to take him home, and plugs into the Playstation instead, where his friends, now home from Boy Scouts, piano, Little League, et cetera, join him online. I know it's all well and good to talk about how kids need to learn that life isn't all instant gratification, and they sometimes need to practice and get good at things, but that doesn't happen often enough when the child lives in a subdivision that's built around driving, and therefore requires a parent to go anywhere. It doesn't happen when playing at the park, or swimming at the pool, or visiting the library, requires adult supervision until a ridiculously high age. When the digital world is the only place where kids get any freedom, that's where they're going to go. A generation ago, the options were either (relatively) free play, or crude 8-bit video games on the NES, and later, Super Nintendo and Sega, which were a step up, but nothing close to what we have today. Now, the options seem to be adult-controlled, organized activities, or a dazzling on-screen world, where you can play at being a professional athlete, a dragon slayer, a master criminal, or just about anything, and meet your friends online in any of those worlds. So, what I'm trying to say is, organized activities are all well and good, but just like adults, kids need some free time. When adults remove (or severely restrict) the option of free play out of misguided fears about injuries and predators, they force that free play indoors, onto a screen. So, I think that, if kids were allowed to play freely like they did 30 or 40 years ago, they would.
The last quote of the video was something like: ‘while love of nature is innate in children, it needs to be nurtured’.
What do they mean by nurture?
Stop with the excuses. We didn’t have skateboard parks near where I grew up. You know what we did…………we made our own ramps, and such.
As for them just sitting there playing a gaming device in the park……………..you don’t let that crap out of the house. Kid goes to take their PSP, you stop them, take it of of them and hand them a ball and glove, a frisbee, or whatever. It is not rocket science.
Warren, I didn’t say that those were good excuses, and yes, when I was a kid, homemade skateboard/Rollerblade/bike ramps were definitely a thing. I wasn’t even saying this about myself–I don’t play video games OR skateboard; I just chose skateboarding as an example, because my brother had a skateboarding game on the computer or the N64 during his youth, and he also had a real skateboard, but the video game got a lot more mileage; possibly because my mom thought skateboarding was dangerous. Also, the stakes are higher in real life–if you mess up in a video game, you start back over at the beginning of the level (or at worst, the beginning of the game, or your last save point), but if you mess up on a real skateboard, you could be badly hurt. Yes, inactivity can have long-term ramifications, but people don’t think long-term; they think about avoiding discomfort RIGHT NOW, whether that’s a scraped knee, or just getting sweaty or out of breath. They think that ice cream tastes better than, say, a piece of fruit, so they pick that. With video games, they get (some of) the adrenaline rush of the “real thing,” but without any of the blood, sweat, or tears. I see those long-term ramifications all the time, as a fitness instructor. I’ve seen severely overweight people come to my Aquafit classes, float in the water and chat instead of participating, and not improve their fitness level at all. I don’t think I’ve ever made an excuse there, because it’s like, if I don’t show up, it doesn’t happen. That’s why I spent most of last summer teaching yoga with a level one tear to my MCL; because other people had made a commitment to exercise, so I’d made a reciprocal commitment to teach their class. I understand what pre-contemplation is like, because I used to be obese myself–I know that it’s hard sometimes to choose to be active on a regular basis, or to choose veggie sticks or salad over French fries, but I think the increased energy is worth it. The “reward” for choosing video games over active play on a regular basis, is sluggishness, and obesity, which can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes…..and I’ve worked with stroke victims, so I know that it takes a lot of hard work to gain back even a fraction of their lost mobility. So, I agree with you, Warren–but, if parents think in terms of RIGHT NOW, as in “Keeping my kids inside in front of the Playstation will keep them safe RIGHT NOW,” it’s hardly fair to blame kids for thinking the same way.
Great video. Children used to escape “captivity” all the time, but nowadays jailers are considered good parents.
Thankfully my neighbors and I have some space around us that the kids can play in. Or with our street being very quiet the kids can bike up and down without really seeing a car. The neighbors across the street just put in a new play structure so all week the kids are there.
While I’d love my kids to go and play around in the green spaces nearby they are not as close as they were when I was a kid. Though my town has a few they are more nature trails that bisect the town.
I keep the tablets outside of my house, one of the neighbor boys won’t come in much anymore since I always threaten to turn off the wifi.
It’s about the choices and opportunities we make and I choose to get my kids outside, tell them to use their imaginations and if they have other kids to do the same things with, they will.
I think another thing that makes a difference in kids playing outside nowadays is small families. So many families have one or two kids. We have five kids (8, 6, 4, 2, and 6 months), and that means that the kids can almost always have a playmate to take outside. So there’s no “My kid wants to play outside but there aren’t any other kids around.” Sure, they’d love to play with somebody new, and noticing “There are kids at the park!” is almost a guarantee that they’ll ask me if they can head over there. But even if there aren’t any kids around (or during the day, since we homeschool, since all the neighborhood kids are at school/daycare), they still have each other to play with.
I was an only child and I was outside all the time as a kid. I loved just wandering about the woods or swinging alone or riding my bike around the neighborhood alone. I also would play with other kids or friends when I could but I played alone too.
I was okay being alone as a kid.
I think it is a culmination of many things all combined. Less kids outside to play with, not as good for pedestrians, kids not home as much since parents are always at work so kids go to daycare or camp or activities, less wood areas, nothing within walking distance anymore due to suburban sprawl, predator fear, CPS fear, teachers giving more homework so kids are stuck doing that all the time
I think its many factors combined.
Here’s what I DON’T like about the video…it’s essentially using parents’ and grandparents’ fears to sell granola bars.
Wow you love to really overthink things. And if there are parents out there that think like this, they need help.
It is very simple, no thinking about it. You turn to your kids, “Get out of the damn house, and get some fresh air.”
That is all there is to it.
Where is the fear? I see revelation, not fear.
I think the ad had to have parents in it for today’s kids, because many of today’s parents want to see that. Maybe, if the kids and their parents get out more, the parents will learn how to relax and just let the kids play. One step at a time…
Wow that’s sad.
>>Hereâ€™s what I DONâ€™T like about the videoâ€¦itâ€™s essentially using parentsâ€™ and grandparentsâ€™ fears to sell granola bars.<<
Yes, exactly. Also, it feels a bit "dirty" to me, because Nature Valley doesn't have a vested interest in the Free-Range movement. So, they don't care if parents buy their granola bars to send outside with their kids as they work on their fort in the woods, or to stash in the minivan as they shuttle the kids from soccer, to ballet, to swimming, to Brownies, to music lessons, week in, and week out. I'm not saying that all activities are bad–my brother and I both participated in extra-curricular activities growing up, but most of those were on our terms, except for swimming lessons, which was a safety thing. On the few occasions that we were forced into something (me into golf, my brother into swimming, and me again into a sports camp because my mom was articling that summer, and I couldn't be left at home all day, every day), we were pretty miserable, and our parents either let us quit, or said "never again." For swimming, they compromised with my brother, and let him quit after Star 3 or Star 4, at which point he was reasonably competent in the water, although not a great swimmer. These days, it seems as if parents either enroll their kids in EVERYTHING from a young age, for the sake of their future resumes and college/university applications, and so they won't "get into trouble" by having "too much free time" (which, for some, translates into "any free time at all"), or they push their kids to succeed at one specific thing, to the exclusion of all else. Sometimes, this is at least partially initiated by the child, but in a lot of cases, the parent is behind it too. But, like I said, all that is immaterial to Nature Valley. If people see that ad, and think, "Nature Valley promotes good values. I'll buy their granola bars. Okay, time to drive little Tiffany to Daisy Scouts, followed by S.A.T. prep for kindergartners," then Nature Valley still wins, because they still get the money from all those misguided parents who've missed the "PSA" portion of their message, and skipped straight to "Buy Nature Valley."
I did not mean to suggest that lack of green spaces was a reason to keep your kids inside…this is a video specifically about fostering a relationship between kids and nature. In this context I was suggesting that the lack of green/natural spaces in today’s neighborhoods was probably a contributing factor (as is helicoptering and over scheduling and the fact that there are no other children outside and fear of predators and on and on) to kids not leaving the house, and most definitely in kids not having a relationship with nature. I agree that children make magic of mundane outdoor spaces (I did this myself as a child growing up in Miami beach, which wasn’t exactly a bastion of green space, even in the 80’s). And of course city kids can carve a space for themselves on sidewalks and such. Free ranging, yes, but that is not building a relationship with nature no matter how you spin it.
First, the ad never mentioned anything about Free Range Kids, or about unsupervised play, or even for that matter over scheduling. It was all about just getting outdoors. You are putting way too much thought into things, and maybe have some unresolved issues with your parents.
The ad did nothing more than what Lenore did on her TV show.
Warren, I don’t have unresolved issues with my parents. They made some mistakes, by thinking my brother and I would enjoy some activities that we didn’t, or in the case of the sports camp, just putting me there because there was no other option. All I was trying to say about that is, some activities are good, if the kids enjoy them, and if they have time for other things as well, but if it’s all structured, all parent-chosen, all the time, that creates unhappy kids. My main point is, though, Nature Valley doesn’t actually care about getting kids outside, so much as they care about selling their product. The name “Nature Valley” and the green packaging implies “healthy.” Playing outdoors also implies “healthy.” So, they used the message of “get kids outdoors” to strengthen their real message of “buy our granola bars.” They don’t actually care whether their granola bars are purchased to be sent outside with Free-Range Kids, or as snacks for the car ride to an endless stream of extra-curricular-activities, or if adults buy them to stash in their desks at work. It’s like the Quaker Instant Oatmeal commercial from the early 2000’s, with the little girl jumping off the high diving board for the first time, as her parents watch proudly, soft music plays in the background, and the announcer says “Quaker: You prepare them for life, we help prepare them for the day.” In that little scene, it didn’t matter what the child had eaten for breakfast, but Quaker was just making it look like it did. So, some parents might miss the “life lesson” of the commercial, buy the oatmeal, and keep their children home in front of the TV instead of taking their children swimming…..but, from Quaker’s point of view, it didn’t matter, as long as they bought the oatmeal. That’s what I think is dishonest here; when companies advertise their products with the implication of “buy this, and you’ll be a better person.” By packaging a granola bar in green, giving it a “hippie-crunchy” name Like Nature Valley, and advertising it with a commercial about playing outside, they’re not technically saying anything untrue about their product, just like the Quaker people weren’t technically about their oatmeal, by making a commercial centred around a “proud parenting moment,” but it still feels dishonest to me, because one thing has nothing to do with the other. Warren, you have kids yourself, right? I bet you might even remember the first time they jumped off the high diving board, or rode a bike, or whatever, but I’m willing to bet that you don’t remember what they ate for breakfast that day, because the two things are completely unrelated. Now, suppose you did happen to feed them Quaker Instant Oatmeal on the day of a Big Childhood Milestone. Suppose that, after that, the Quaker people showed up at your door and tried to claim credit for getting your kids to said milestone. I bet you’d be pretty ticked, right? Or, suppose there was a Big Childhood Milestone planned for that day, and you were feeding your kids generic oatmeal for breakfast, and the Quaker people came to your door and demanded you feed your kids THEIR oatmeal, because THEIR oatmeal has a commercial that associates it with good parenting, and the generic brand doesn’t. I bet that would make you mad as well, because again, there’s no correlation between the two things. My point here is that good parenting, and positive values, and important moments in life, can’t be bought and sold, so they shouldn’t be used to sell products.
I don’t think outdoor exploration and technology have to be mutually exclusive.
My son takes his phone with him fishing. He catches and releases but will snap a photo and ruler measure his catches and send text photos to us at work. I love this. He once sent a photo of a strange snake he never saw before (which we identified as a water mocassin by it’s triangle shaped head) and helped him identify a dangerous species of snake in a public place, which he reported.
I’ve seen groups of boys racing remote-controlled cars through a grove of trees near our house. It looks really fun! These kids could be future engineers here, who’s to say they can only play with dirt and twigs?
My oldest finds geocaches with his phone at state parks and natural areas. They recently found one on a defunct railroad track that is part of rails to trails. They spent 2 hours trying to locate it (it was very well hidden) and in the process discovered a bit of history about a legendary train crash that happened there in the early 1900’s and killed 27 people. They found the actual gulch and took photos of what it looks like now vs. the black and whites of the newspaper articles. All the boys with him think the area is haunted now which will only make for good campfire stories for vacation next month.
“I donâ€™t think outdoor exploration and technology have to be mutually exclusive.”
Not just electronic technology, either. Sunscreen is needed for me if I’m going to be outside all day. The shoes kids wear nowadays are way more technological than they used to be (both in composition and design). And a lot of kids carry electrolyte syrup instead of just water for rehydrating.
You have far too much time on your hands, to put this much thought and disgust into a simple granola bar commercial.
If this had been a PSA made with taxpayers money you would be overjoyed. But a company that makes a natural product making a commercial, about getting out and enjoying nature is the devil. Give your head a shake.
They don’t show parents packing the kids off with a handful of their product, they don’t show anyone eating their product. I think you need to take a deep breath and calm down.
As for milestones and parenting moments, you are wrong. A lot of people remember what product they were using at the time. From cars to cameras to clothing to beverages. So again take a deep breath and count to ten.
But if your kid is outside under a tree with a bunch of other kids, and they are all just sitting there playing games on whatever platform, then yes you have to step in.
We were not talking about sunscreen, shoes and crap, and you damn well know it. Stop trying to sideline things for your own perverse enjoyment.
Emily you are upset that advertisers advertise products in an effort to get people to buy those products?
Don’t watch the commercials then!
“Emily you are upset that advertisers advertise products in an effort to get people to buy those products?”
If “Nature Valley” runs an ad that says “hey, our products are pretty good, you should buy some!”, that’s honest.
If, instead, they run an ad that suggests that if you value this, that, and the other thing, you should buy Nature Valley products, even though Nature Valley products have nothing really to do with this, that, and the other thing, then it’s a little bit dishonest.
Of course, a certain amount of dishonesty is to be expected in advertising (and the limit goes way up when it’s time for election advertising), it’s fair to prefer that ads be more honest.
A lot of people, of course, don’t watch the commercials at all, to the advertisers’ dismay, but it’s their own fault. Back in the days when broadcast television was 90% program and 10% ads, you could sit through the ads. Now that it’s 20% advertising (and the ads are seeping back into the programs themselves). Outside of sports programming, does anyone watch programs live any more?
James, advertisers use emotion to sell products all the time.
And in other news, turns out water is wet.
“advertisers use emotion to sell products all the time.”
Sure, and beer ads feature attractive people, and truck ads rarely show the touted vehicle sitting stuck in rush-hour traffic. Almost as if…
“Of course, a certain amount of dishonesty is to be expected in advertising ”
The fact that it is common doesn’t mean you can’t prefer it not to be.
Non-free range parents complain about free-range children all the time. Does this make it not OK to object when it happens?
I know that type. And yes, I step in. There’s a little girl up the street who is always on her iPad and the mom sends her outside to play with other kids. She (and her siblings) all have shiny new iphones, which they must take with them to be in contact with mom at all times (I absolutely hate this, but try not to be judgmental of other parents who still let kids play outside). This girl comes to our house and asks for the wifi password, and is denied (by me) with a “Go play outside” reminder. She worked over my youngest daughter who gave her the password, and while kids played soccer, rode bikes, and made up games happily, she sat under a tree sending texts to her other friends.
I took a picture on my phone and texted it to her mom with a “I don’t think the punishment is working haha” tag and her mom thanked me for telling her what her kid is up to. I usually don’t tell on kids but she broke my rule. She doesn’t do this anymore. (I think she got someone else’s wifi password, honestly, she’s a little con artist.) Technology is not the antichrist. I enjoy it and hope to stress to my kids that it can be used responsibly and combined with other active outdoorsy pursuits.
“This girl comes to our house and asks for the wifi password, and is denied (by me) with a â€œGo play outsideâ€ reminder. She worked over my youngest daughter who gave her the password, and while kids played soccer, rode bikes, and made up games happily, she sat under a tree sending texts to her other friends.”
So, you overrode her decision about how to spend her time, substituting your own judgment about how she should do so?
Yep, never understood the need for phones just to go out and play. And our wifi password is not for anyone other than those me and my bride approve.
lollipop has no obligation to turn over a password to anyone. And secondly, you were not invited into this. So shut the hell up.
Awww, c’mon Warren, we can invite James to play.
James- I don’t give out wifi passwords to conniving 8 year-olds, house rules. What they do on their personal devises is their business, but I have no obligation to cater to their every whim and desire and provide them with modern luxuries, like internet access. She can spend her time any way she wishes, she’s just not getting my password.
“James- I donâ€™t give out wifi passwords to conniving 8 year-olds, house rules.”
Apparently, not everybody in your house follows the rules, then?
“What they do on their personal devises is their business”
“I took a picture on my phone and texted it to her mom”
“You can either do chores inside or go play outside” -me
“Apparently, not everybody in your house follows the rules, then?”
That kind of rude response would be unacceptable in polite conversation. Why do you believe it is acceptable here?
@James- What they do on their own devises is their business UNLESS they go behind my back after I already said NO and manipulate one of my children to obtain a wifi password they were told they could not have.
Then they are little shits and I will tell their parents.
I’M SO CONFLICTED! This video tells me to take my kids outside, but I just read there are LONG TERM HEALTH CONSEQUENCES! Not to mention the article I read the other day that reported THAT NO SUN EXPOSURE IS SAFE, not even with SPF9000. Plus I have to worry about Lyme disease, and Malaria, and West Nile, too much screen time, not enough quality time, and one of my kids is left handed and I read that might mean she’s a SERIAL KILLER.
I can’t parent anymore. I’m shipping them off to the experts!
The similar Clif Bar commercial shows and explicitly supports kids playing outside on their own: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ8ALjMOGq8
@juluho: Always a wise decision! 😛
“one of my kids is left handed and I read that might mean sheâ€™s a SERIAL KILLER.”
But *I* am left handed and serial killing is just the best hobby ever! It requires searching skills, planning skills, looking at yourself and the crime scene through the eyes of the forensic experts and the police in order to throw them off with false leads, it’s – depending on your MO – physically challenging, you need to control your impulses when you see a good victim in public, you have to be careful not to leave witnesses… It has taught me so much!
Yes, yes, just kidding 😀