Whenever I board a plane, somewhere, there are parents sitting there with their children. At first sight, this is actually nothing special but when I take a closer look, I see how these kids (maybe 8 or 10 years old or something) are bent over an iPad and play games while the parents are just busy with themselves.
And at this point I notice how much society has changed since I was a child. How much differently childhood is being defined today than it has been ten years ago.
I remember my young years in Berlin pretty well, even though most of my friends claim not to be able to. We were a small group of kids from Oslo Street in Berlin’s workers’ district Wedding (nothing to do with the English meaning of the word). We did not have much but we did not need to either.
We were the generation that ate dry Chinese noodles out of the bag like they were potato chips with one bag of chilli spice in there. We knew that this wasn’t healthy and if I think about it today, I just find the whole thing disgusting, but this is what we liked to have for a snack and we were totally happy with it.
We were the kids that spent the six week summer vacation in the city library and on the very simple playground with a slide, swings and a see-saw. We were checking out books (60 were the maximum allowed per visit), surfing on the internet for 50 cents an hour and participating in the activities, organized by the staff of the library. And even when the summer vacation was over, our hearts were full of joy when we saw the library bus with all sorts of books park in front of our elementary school building. I still remember how some of us couldn’t wait to finally turn twelve so we could borrow the newest Harry Potter movie from the library because if we were younger than twelve, we wouldn’t get it.
We were the children that played outside, every free minute we had. If that wasn’t possible, then for me, there was nothing more relaxing than playing Tetris on my old Nintendo Game Boy, while the sound of he music from my CD player mixed with the raindrops hitting the glass of my window.
Nowadays I see ten year old children that already have a touch screen cell phone and a laptop all to themselves. Children today mostly spend their time in front of the screen instead of going outside or reading a book.
I remember when MP3- Players just came out. Everyone in my class (we were in grade four back then) was all crazy about them and withing a few weeks, almost everyone had one such gadget. My birthday gift back then was a simple MP3-Player. White, running on one single battery with wait for it… 325 MB!!!!! We really couldn’t be happier. And all that for “only” €50. If I take a look at the gadgets today, one can have such a thing with a capacity of 4GB for € 20. I am surprised every single time anew.
Call me old fashioned, but I really find it a pity that this is how childhood looks like today. I find it terrible that nowadays it matters whether you have the newest phone or whether you do or do not have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Yes, in the German youngsters’s society it really comes down to whether you are single or not and I have seen that from grade five on. You better not be single these days or you will just be considered absolutely “uncool”.
I find it sad that one cannot even be nice anymore. I mean one sure can but nowadays, whenever you are trying to make a nice gesture towards someone, everybody thinks that you want something from them. Kindness and the wish to do something nice for others does not exist really or is just being absolutely misinterpreted. However, I do remember these days when people liked you because you were a kind and interesting person and not because you had a bunch of money and/or a handsome partner.
Here is to the demise of what once was called childhood.