Overprotection and Society

There are times when we realize that society has taken major missteps.  Children’s playgrounds are the beginning of our missteps in our lives.  Why is this a misstep?  Just look at our playgrounds and you will realize that they offer little in terms of growth, imagination, and self-confidence.  This, as well as the inability to experience risk, problem solving, negotiation and other traits, explains a lot about our reliance on government today.  The younger generations of our population no longer have the confidence, risk-taking ability, negotiation, or problem solving skills of our older generations.  Their long-term reliance on adults translates into an inability to solve problems when they, themselves become adults.  Instead of taking responsibility or solving problems, they expect the government to act as their parent.  
Hanna Rosin of The Atlantic, wrote an exceptional piece, titled The Overprotected Kid
…..”Nearby, a couple of boys are doing mad flips on a stack of filthy mattresses, which makes a fine trampoline. At the other end of the playground, a dozen or so of the younger kids dart in and out of large structures made up of wooden pallets stacked on top of one another. Occasionally a group knocks down a few pallets—just for the fun of it, or to build some new kind of slide or fort or unnamed structure. Come tomorrow and the Land might have a whole new topography.”

In the “old” days, kids could be kids. Today, we have safety equipment on our playgrounds to protect them from injuring themselves.  But, what is the cost of this? 

It is amusing to give kids the simplest of items to play.  Recently, my son dug into our recycling bin to create something he wanted, but could not have: goalie pads.  He spent a solid hour crafting his protection, using tools, his creativity, and learning from mistakes to arrive at perfection (in his mind).  Yes, he made a mess and had to use one band aid for a cut from the cardboard.  But, moreover, he was able to create his own entertainment, just by us leaving him alone and letting him run free with his idea. 

Rosin continues, “A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.” 

In North Wales, a park called The Land was introduced to a neighborhood.  Rosin writes extensively of this park, but sufficed to say, you will not find a park like this in the United States.  The park contains old tires, a fire pit, old mattresses, an old walker, and the aforementioned pallets in a fenced area.  A trained play supervisor is there, though they try not to interfere, but rather, let the children play as they please.  Adults are encouraged to let their kids just play there and not watch over them.  It is a chance for kids to learn from each other and create their own rules and play structure.  It allows them to be creative and interact with each other in a non-supervised way.  It encourages their own problem solving, and self-reliance rather than asking parents or other adults for help with everything.  
In America, we have safeties in place for everything in the playground.  We have padded bars, fenced bridges and covered slides.  We also have highly padded, landing areas around all the play equipment.  We would never be allowed to install such a park because of the myriad of lawsuits it COULD bring.  We live in a nanny state in our country, and it is to the detriment of the development of our children into adults.  

“(Ellen) Sandseter began observing and interviewing children on playgrounds in Norway. In 2011, she published her results in a paper called “Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences.” Children, she concluded, have a sensory need to taste danger and excitement; this doesn’t mean that what they do has to actually be dangerous, only that they feel they are taking a great risk. That scares them, but then they overcome the fear. In the paper, Sandseter identifies six kinds of risky play: (1) Exploring heights, or getting the “bird’s perspective,” as she calls it—“high enough to evoke the sensation of fear.” (2) Handling dangerous tools—using sharp scissors or knives, or heavy hammers that at first seem unmanageable but that kids learn to master. (3) Being near dangerous elements—playing near vast bodies of water, or near a fire, so kids are aware that there is danger nearby. (4) Rough-and-tumble play—wrestling, play-fighting—so kids learn to negotiate aggression and cooperation. (5) Speed—cycling or skiing at a pace that feels too fast. (6) Exploring on one’s own.”

From this, we learn that this lack of sensory interaction can cause children to not take risks due to all the fear they have learned in childhood due to our over protection.  As adults, this over protection is translated into our government.  Our parent becomes the government, telling us what we can and cannot due and why.  Rather than allow people to take their own risks and learn from them, we are not even given the chance, much like children in the United States.   
Sandseter goes on to explain, “When they (children) are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience.” Children seek this thrill, we just have to let them experience it. Unfortunately, our all too protective and litigious society shields our children from these experiences and the learning that comes along with it. In return, we have gained a society full of needy people who need those who are experienced, or government, to take care of them when making decisions.

Rosin states, “We might accept a few more phobias in our children in exchange for fewer injuries. But the final irony is that our close attention to safety has not in fact made a tremendous difference in the number of accidents children have. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which monitors hospital visits, the frequency of emergency-room visits related to playground equipment, including home equipment, in 1980 was 156,000, or one visit per 1,452 Americans. In 2012, it was 271,475, or one per 1,156 Americans. The number of deaths hasn’t changed much either. From 2001 through 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 100 deaths associated with playground equipment—an average of 13 a year, or 10 fewer than were reported in 1980.”

After all this, we find out that these measures do little to nothing to protect our children physically.  But, what is the cost of this?  Are children becoming ill prepared to be adults due to their lack of abilities, aforementioned above?  And, while this only explores one small sector of childhood and the growth of adult abilities and behaviors, imagine looking at other unintended consequences of the nanny state of our country.   

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I correctly answered 11 of 13 questions on the @pewresearch News IQ Quiz. Test yourself:

I correctly answered 11 of 13 questions on the @pewresearch News IQ Quiz. Test yourself:: Quiz yourself on current events to see how well you keep up with the news. Compare your results to those who took our national survey.

For a father of two, full time employee and husband, I run a very busy life.  I scored above 91% of Americans and that saddens me.  It makes me realize just how out of touch Americans are with the ongoings of the world.  How can people make educated decisions if they are this uneducated?  Honestly, I don’t spend heaps of time reading and researching, except on specific articles I write.  I am sure many of my readers will score higher than I did!

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Politics in 140 Characters or Less

Has it really come to this?  The exchange of ideas and opinions in politics has been reduced to 140 characters, a meme, or short quote?  The most popular and most read pieces today are those which are just quick hits.  Gone are the days where most people read an entire article, opinion piece, research paper, or economic analysis.  The vast majority of Americans now rely on the quick and easy to argue their opinions or positions.

Have Americans attention spans completely disappeared?  Whether one goes on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, or other social media, people are most likely to respond to the quick and short pieces.  The numbers are staggering when you start paying attention; people “like” pictures and short quips much more than well researched and published pieces.

In addition, even when people glance at pieces, they assume the title says it all.  Have they not heard the phrase, “never judge a book by its’ cover?”  A title may say something, but it is the details that matter more.  It is the details and information contained under the title which give breadth and depth to the matter at hand.  Yet, so few of us continue to inform ourselves.  Even those of you now reading this, are part of that small crowd who continue to search for information.  And, I hate to tell you, there is little information but my opinion in this editorial.

Maybe I can find a meme for this article?

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Why Does it Matter? Clinton appeals to idealism of college students – Politics Wires – MiamiHerald.com

TEMPE, Ariz.: Clinton appeals to idealism of college students – Politics Wires – MiamiHerald.com

Don’t think the press is in the bag for Clinton in 2016?  Compare this piece to the write-ups regarding Rand Paul’s speech at UC-Berkley the past few days and the contrasts are startling.  While Rand Paul was stated as “appealing to paranoia”, Clinton is given the softer title of “appealing to idealism”.

Ken Thomas of the Associated Press writes,Looking out to a theater full of motivated college students, Hillary Rodham Clinton said their generation showed great promise as “open-minded and tolerant” Americans ready to step forward for an important cause.”

Meanwhile the “closed-minded and intolerant” gathered to listen to Rand Paul at UC-Berkley, right?  But, are we not speaking about our former Secretary of State who felt no remorse for the deaths of Benghazi?  “Why does it matter?”  I find a serious problem with a candidate who cannot acknowledge the value of human life.  The families and friends of the Benghazi four are on the forefront of the minds of Americans.

Clinton also stated,

“It is the work of this century to complete the unfinished business of making sure that every girl and boy, every woman and man, lives in societies that respects their rights no matter who they are, respects their potential and their talents, gives them the opportunities that every human being deserves, no matter where you were born, no matter the color of your skin, no matter your religion, your ethnicity or who you love.” (Miami Herald)

Excuse me while I go throw up now.  I thought the race baiting, etc. would end with the current President.  How closed minded and intolerant of me….

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