Neighborhoods are like ghost towns, kids don’t play outside

Have you noticed that you really do not see anyone when you drive through a neighborhood today? Sure, you see houses and roads, but where are all the kids we remember playing on summer days? Are they all inside their air-conditioned houses staying out of the hot sun? Are video games just that much better today where one only goes outside to take out the trash?

Or maybe everyone is hanging out at skate parks and there is no obesity epidemic in the United States today. But one thing’s for sure, I do not see any kids playing outside anymore. There is only a fraction of them at your local skate parks and sales of kids plus size clothes have gone through the roof.

“The obesity epidemic spread rapidly during the 1990s across all states, regions and demographic groups in the United States,” according to an article on the Web site for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Coincidently, this boom in children’s weight occured right around the time when Playstation and Nintendo 64 came out. That’s when video games really made their stride, suddenly becoming the thing for kids to do is sit inside the house all day, playing video games instead of playing games outside like every summer before.

Games like baseball, football and hockey have started to be played only in Physical Education class now because you can now play them with realistic graphics on your Playstation.

I can see the kids’ points of view because I was right there with them playing Resident Evil and Gran Turismo on my Playstation back in the day. It’s a hot day outside and you will get tired and start sweating if you play baseball or football because it requires you to move.

If you stay inside your air-conditioned house, you will feel comfortable. And a nice video game or TV with chips on the side makes it all worth while, even if you never step foot outside that day.

It is no wonder why “America is home to the most obese people in the world,” according to downtoearth.org. It’s funny, especially in California, because the majority of kids live in pretty respectable neighborhoods.

So why don’t they play outside anymore? Kids are spoiled today and parents could be a major factor. Kids learn a lot and develop habits at an early age, and if they are raised in front of a TV or computer or video game, they will continue those habits for quite a while.

Instead of riding their bikes to go to Baskin Robbins, their parents drive them there now. Instead of building a tree house like so many kids used to do, they buy a simulation video game of building one.

Many parents don’t seem to mind. It makes their lives easier if their kids are happy being couch potatoes playing video games and watching TV. They do not have to worry about where their kids are playing because they are always inside. Parents have enough things to worry about like house mortgages and car payments. The last thing parents want to do is create conflict with their children, which would make their lives even more complicated and stressful. So things are fine the way they are, right?

But what about those skate-parks that keep popping up? If there is an outdoor activity that exists in the world of suburbia today, it is skate parks. So the solution to America’s kids’ laziness and obesity is to simply put a skate-park on every street corner in America. That way kids will not have to be dropped off by their parents, or God forbid, walk great distances to the skate-park.

Of course, I am being sarcastic as this would most likely never happen.

That means some of it is up to the parents. They can push their children towards more physical activity and playing outside on those summer days and nights just like they used to when they were children. Maybe parents could get a little more active too since kids look up to them. Instead of eating at restaurants on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, have a picnic at a park. The family could play some frisbee or baseball while the dogs are on the grill.

Schools could help out too with a longer, more vigorous P.E. class with better lectures on physical fitness.

We can always build more parks if we can find the space. We can also place more bike lanes on our main roads to promote safety and fitness. Many people have lost touch with the great outdoors, perhaps due to urban sprawl or laziness.

When you are a lover of the outdoors, you will be doing activities outside and your chances of being in good physical shape will take a great leap forward.

Daniel Macri is a junior film major.

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