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I Think Video Games Have Destroyed My Kids

Last Saturday was a beautiful spring day here in Charlotte. So my wife and I, being the incredible parents that we are… decided that it was the perfect day for a special family outing. Gorgeous day, quality time with the kids, what could be better?

So I had this great idea… to take a family bike ride. We used to do that when I was a kid and I remember loving it. Back then, I had this very cool Huffy BMX dirt bike which was purchased from that high-quality bike super-store… Kmart. Of course, since I was a type-A first child… I never actually rode the bike in the dirt. And if I ever accidentally went through a puddle or something, I would spend the rest of the day washing and polishing the bike. But regardless, there was nothing better than my bike when I was a kid.

Wow. Times have changed.

First of all… it took us a half an hour to find the bikes in the garage. We had to sort through mounds of toys, motorized scooters, roller blades, nerf guns, kites, and inflatable water slide systems. Back when I was a kid, I had a bike and maybe a ball glove in the garage and that was about it. My kids have so much stuff, we had to remind them which bike was theirs. But I eventually got the tires all pumped up and we embarked.

That’s when the drama really started.

My younger son immediately broke into a sobbing ball of tears and whined: “I can’t get up this hill! My legs are aching! How much longer?!”  I assured him that it would get a lot easier… as soon as we got out of the driveway.

Unfortunately, it didn’t. Most of the entire bike ride (um… maybe 45 minutes?) was spent complaining and asking when we were going to turn around and go home. Granted, the ground wasn’t completely flat -- but this is North Carolina... not the Swiss Alps. And we weren’t exactly drafting each other for top speed. We encountered some hills and went at a normal pace, but to all but one of my four kids… it was like my wife and I were waterboarding them or something. My one daughter even described the ordeal afterwards as “the worst experience of her life.”  If that weren't enough, my younger son actually had to stay home from school the next Monday, in part because his legs and ankles hurt so much from pedaling!  I'm not joking!

So much for family bonding. As soon as we got home, my kids asked if they could go inside and play video games.

I couldn’t believe it… but I thought maybe my memory had faded or something, so I called my dad to ask him if I had complained about bike rides when I was a kid. He assured me I hadn’t. Actually, he said that when HE was a kid, back before parents had to be so safety conscious… he would go out on his own and ride his bike 15-20 miles… in the snow… while pedaling with only one leg. He said I was the one who had it easy.

I guess things must get easier for each generation. Can you imagine when my kids have kids? They’ll be telling their children… “Oh yeah? Well in my day we didn’t have video games that you could control with your mind. We had to USE CONTROLLERS with our OWN TWO HANDS until our thumbs ached!”

It does seems like kids these days are more interested in virtual exercise than real exercise. I cracked up the other day when my older son was telling our family that two of his favorite sports were “Tennis and Hockey.” We were all a bit confused, since this child has never held a tennis racket and never, ever played ice hockey. When asked how he knew they were his favorites, he replied: “I’ve played them on the Wii.”

So… I decided after that weekend that my kids definitely need more exercise. My kids are going to be tough and active, like I am. This weekend, I’m shipping them outside... no matter what they say. And then, while they are outside… I’ll sit down at the computer and spend a couple hours on Facebook.