I listened to this excellent “Why Are American Teenagers So Sad and Anxious” podcast yesterday morning.
In one part, Derek Thompson discusses his “displacement” theory of childhood. Meaning as children and adolescents have spent more and more time on smart phones and other screens, there have been direct and indirect costs to their well-being. One indirect cost has been the “displacement” of play meaning much less outdoor activity with others. In the podcasters’ views, it’s difficult to underestimate the negative consequences of reduced play.
Then, in the afternoon, at mile 34 of my bike ride, I was rolling through the blueberry farms on Gull Harbor Rd. And right before hitting Boston Harbor Rd, there she was.
A 6-7 year old blonde girl who single-handedly is bucking the alone, indoor, screen life. I’ve seen her before in her backyard from Boston Harbor Rd. Her family’s compound is a chaotic mess of animals, hard panned dirt, junk including an abandoned bus, and more animals. Barefoot and dirty, if you only saw her in her backyard, you’d think it was Appalachia.
Yesterday, she was sitting on her driveway where it meets Gull Harbor Rd. Still barefoot, next to a chicken and a “Chicken Crossing” sign, she was sawing a piece of wood with a saw three-quarters her size.
The only thing that would’ve been better is if she was risking injury with a friend or two. I’m sure she has friends, but they were probably indoors on screens.