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“Leashed” Children: How Much Freedom Should We Give Our Kids?

AND DOES NEW TECHNOLOGY MAKE THEM SAFER? OR MORE AT RISK? By Liz Gunn || I read an article recently on Slate  about how kids today have less freedom than kids of previous generations, including my own. At first glance this makes perfect sense to me. There are exponentially more…


liz gunnBy Liz Gunn || I read an article recently on Slate  about how kids today have less freedom than kids of previous generations, including my own. At first glance this makes perfect sense to me. There are exponentially more creeps in today’s world, right? Well, no. Not exactly. Although at times it feels like we live in a world lacking morals and human decency, there are statistically speaking no more abductions by strangers now than there were three decades ago.

Most children are actually abducted by someone they know. Of course this is every parent’s worst nightmare anyway … someone snatching up your unsuspecting child the minute you turn your back.

Perhaps, the real-time news cycle we live in makes us think things are a lot more dangerous these days, with daily headlines of Amber Alerts and missing children, but in reality kids are no more likely to be kidnapped by some pervert on the playground now than they were thirty years ago.

Parents should take comfort in the fact that child abductions by strangers are actually very rare (only about three percent of all reported abductions), yet the rules set forth for today’s kids have tightened significantly.

Mentioned in the article, the mother of a nine-year-old girl was arrested in South Carolina recently for letting her daughter play at a park unattended while she worked. I thought back to when I was nine, and I clearly remember walking home from school unsupervised, playing at a nearby ball park with friends after school and walking or riding my bike around the neighborhood at my leisure.

Oddly enough, I had one of the strictest moms!  I had parameters, of course.  I wasn’t allowed to cross Main Street.  I had to be home by dinner, which was well before dark in the summertime.  I was never allowed to get in the car with anyone other than a family member.  At the time, and even now, it actually seemed pretty reasonable.  In today’s world however, my seemingly level-headed mother might find herself arrested.

What has happened?

Why have parents continuously become more overbearing?  There is even a term for it: “Helicopter parenting.”  What I find most intriguing about this whole scenario is that kids today actually seem more mature than kids from my generation did at that age.  The way they speak, the knowledge they possess and the technology they have access to is so far beyond anything I could have even imagined at that age.  It seems as if they are growing up faster and faster.  One might think that with all the ways we have to stay connected, and GPS technology as advanced as it is – children might actually have a longer leash.

When I was nine and my mom dropped me off at a playground, the most advanced technology I had access to was my Swatch watch …so I knew what time to start looking for her to return.  I couldn’t call her or text her if it started raining, or if a friend’s mom offered me a ride home.  I was forced to use common sense.

Bingo!  If there is anything kids today are lacking, I’m afraid that is it.

Kids today can navigate an iPad better than most people my age.  I am nothing short of amazed at how quickly toddlers, even babies really, pick up on technology. But are we cutting out a vital part of growing up by allowing it so early and so frequently?  If so, then parents have good reason to be more protective.  Common sense is the best tool a kid can have in a sticky situation.

By relying so heavily on technology, are we creating a generation that completely lacks common sense?  And is common sense innate or acquired?  If a person is never put in a situation where they are forced to rely on common sense, does it fade away? Does it not develop?  Is it one of our “use it or lose it” skills?

I’m not anti-technology … far from it. I love anything that makes my life more organized or more enjoyable; who wouldn’t?  I am just very curious to see the effect these technologies have on future generations, like my daughter’s.  Personally, I can admit that advanced technology has changed the way I think.  Why would need to remember how to do basic math when my iPhone has a built in calculator?  Why would I need to remember a seven digit phone number when I can just store it in my phone?  I don’t even need your phone number – I can Facebook message you, direct message you on Twitter, email you, etc.

Curious about something?  Anything?  Don’t waste time thinking about it … just Google it.  Technology has quite literally changed the development of my brain.  I only wish we knew for certain what it does to the more impressionable brains of future generations.

We know technology sadly enables the predators, but is it also empowering our kids in their efforts to steer clear of them? Or is it eroding the very common sense and innate watchfulness they need to be honing?  Sounds like the debate over “screen-time,” and how much is too much, may need to be the subject of my next post.

(What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comment section below).

Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, author, businesswoman, travel enthusiast, food snob, fashionista, lover of great wine and the No. 1 Gamecock football fan … ever.  A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia with her husband and daughter.

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euwe max August 11, 2014 at 12:41 pm

none. They’ll begin to expect it.

John August 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm

I agree. Then they turn into teenagers and think they are in charge.

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 1:29 pm

And then into adulthood, where they refuse to fund the government.

eye in the sky August 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Hang around playgrounds much?

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Enough to know children have to earn their freedom to play.

BreastFed Dad August 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm

These days many adults cannot walk across a grocery store parking lot without reading their text messages and narrowly avoid getting smushed by a car. I have adopted a new reaction to this: rather than stopping and waiting for said dumbass to look up and start shaking and acting all weird I simply blow my horn before they look up. It’s quite a fun time scaring the absolute piss out of some adult with NO COMMON SENSE.

As for kids getting abducted the parks ain’t what they used to be. From what the paper reports it’s usually fags hanging out around the bathrooms waiting for some dad to punch their lights out that are the real danger. That said, I wouldn’t let my kids out of my sight at a public place anymore until they reach maybe 12 or 13. Luckily mine are ass-kicking age now so God help the creep who goes there.

GrandTango August 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Nothing personal…but when we are reduced to looking to a gossip-site, one-time, borderline-sleaze nudity blog, to base child-freedom advice on…it’s likely a moot point.
Most FITS readers are going to have to think on that one a while before they have a even a chance at getting it.

Buz Martin August 11, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Still beats that snooze-inducing shit blog of yours for content, fool.

GrandTango August 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Liberals and Nutjob conspiracy theorists SHOULD hate my site. So I’m not surprised. It’s for the serious-minded politco, who does not see a voice like there’s elsewhere.

PS: Liz: this guy runs a nudie bar..errr “burlesque” club. And his tendencies swing toward the pervish..Be careful, he will try to get a bit too cozy with you…since you are female…

Buz Martin August 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Idjit! I don’t run a “nudie bar.” I don’t even LIKE nudie bars, I prefer some of the female form left to the imagination. I don’t like most porn for the same reason. What I do is produce burlesque and “vaudeville” style shows. WAY different! Ms. Gunn would be perfectly safe with me. She is 1) Too young, I think, 2) probably not interested (a huge turn-off, always), 3) About, I’d say, 25 lbs shy of the ideal female form for my tastes. Needs steak and ‘taters, and 4) MARRIED!!!
Would not even TRY to go there, but her tweets really are funnier’n’ big 0l’ shit-stains on a Clemson cheerleader’s draws.

GrandTango August 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm

“Burlesque” is the dead giveaway. That has ruined MB more than the Chamber you rail about. And now you have democrat trying to bring in the mafia, with on-shore gambling casinos. You ARE as much a part of the problem as Bikefest.

Buz Martin August 11, 2014 at 4:37 pm

“Neo-” and “Retro-” Burlesque shows are not presented in strip clubs. There is no full nudity, and not even full toplessness. It is about the tease, and it is about fun. There is no personal contact with the audience, no lap-dances, etc. It just does not happen. You ignorance is in full bloom. Also, I am not a Democrat, and am not a proponent of casinos in MB. You obviously have me confused with someone else entirely.

BrigidBernadette August 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm

They only took down the pornography and Kelly Payne’s tits when whatshername ‘ran’ for Senate. The first few years it was like a rip-off of the page three girls in The Sun UK. I wouldn’t even mention my dogs on a site like this, much less children.

MFH August 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

You LITERALLY just mentioned your dogs and children on this site. Idiot.

Beats the old way August 11, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Google beats the hell out of that wall of thick books that we used to have to pack and move. I remember vividly the day I took all 3! sets of encyclopedias to the landfill and heaved them into that big green dumpster.

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 2:56 pm

I’m still trying to get used to the Kindle.

Luddite August 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

I still buy books, they are just more convenient to me.

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 3:53 pm

I like being able to search the book I’m reading, or the books I own for a phrase.. and looking at my notes.

Centrist View August 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm

Some few years ago, my wife and I were visiting the open house at our children s’ elementary school. We dropped by the computer lab and what struck me most was the teacher’s comment that “Little boys hate keyboarding.” (I learned to “type” when I was in school.)

So if little boys hate typing on a keyboard, then who is more likely to become the victim of an internet predator? Probably, little girls.

Is it possible to become an internet victim if the person cannot type emails or text messages?

shifty henry August 11, 2014 at 9:33 pm

Little boys probably hate typing on a keyboard because they may have encountered the “Dan Quayle” computer virus:
‘there is sumthing rong with your computer but ewe>cant figyour out watt!’

Bible Thumper August 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm

I grew up in Mayberry. Unsupervised play is important and often lacking today. My parents never knew where I was between meals, but if I was caught misbehaving by other adults my parents would here about it. Dad didn’t have to use his belt often, (disobedience or meanness) but it’s presence was always palpable.
I climbed trees and built tree houses that would not meet the building codes. Rode my bicycle up makeshift ramps over creeks (my own Snake river canyon).
We watched TV, but it was a together as a family, not everyone using their own device. We wore suits to church and had to polish our shoes each week. If don’t know how the shoes withstood all that polish. Had to sit with my parents on the same pew until the seventh grade.
I don’t know how I survived all the abuse and neglect.

shifty henry August 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Similar story here with no regrets, — and you are a better man for it.

Junior Tardkin on a leash August 11, 2014 at 2:19 pm

If you treat your kid like a fucking pet, don’t be surprised when they act like fucking pets.

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm

If you could guarantee that, I’d have a few kids.

willblogformoney August 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Please don’t asshole.

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 3:44 pm

But they’d be cute little assholes.

Quantavious August 11, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I lets da village raise my chirrun. In our culture it bees ok to steal an stuff so long as you donts get caught.

euwe max August 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

As the density of the population increases, the threat to the individual increases, therefore, (because Republicans are afraid of their own shadow), freedom decreases.

BrigidBernadette August 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Yeah yeah yeah, we KNOW about the internet, when was this written about 2002. Some of these sentences have literally been written a thousand times, uttered even more. This is crap. Gee, the kids use google now. Derp. It was different when I was a kid. Said everyone ever. You should at least mention the writer than owns this subject, Lenore Skenazy and her Free-Range Kids website and book. Banal cliches, rambles from child rape to gee those darned computers. What the fuck is this, Parade Magazine? Reader’s Digest? Brain dead. Honestly, this is better suited for a mommy blog, and it is exactly this kind of lack of substance that makes women out to be dumbasses, on an intellectual level with The View. Children are being beheaded in Iraq, there were race riots last night with tanks, the economy has had a devastating effect on women and children, the southern border has collapsed with outbreaks of chicken pox and other infectious diseases, and we get a hackneyed transcript of small talk at a soccer game.

Will, you weren’t kidding when you said you didn’t even bother to find out what she’s going to write about. Great executive decision making skills there. Maybe you’re leading from ‘behind.’

Jdaddy August 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Oh BB go get laid, drink a beer or maybe even find a friend.. Your constant blabbering and negativity is exhausting…

BrigidBernadette August 12, 2014 at 9:13 am

Who here is listed as ‘Top Commenter,” that isn’t even on this blog. I have posted 3 times the last three weeks which is not ‘constant,’ unlike the liberal trolls who comment every single day on every single article in spite of the fact that this is not a liberal blog–that is called trolling, dipshit. The ‘article’ is crap, and I stand by my opinion. If you don’t like other people’s opinions, then don’t post on a blog with comments.

Your Mom August 12, 2014 at 9:41 am

You’ve left nearly 1500 web comments. Truth hurts, troll. And she didn’t write an article, she wrote a blog post. Someone with such high intellectual standards surely knows the difference.

Your Mom August 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm

“Honestly, this is better suited for a mommy blog, and it is exactly this kind of lack of substance that makes women out to be dumbasses, on an intellectual level with The View.” Honestly, this is exactly the kind of comment that makes you a fucking troll, on an intellectual level with other “top commenters”.

MFH August 12, 2014 at 10:29 am

Go spread your hate elsewhere, BB. If you didn’t like it you should have stopped reading and gone back to hating yourself. This IS a blog and it’s one woman’s opinion so if you don’t like her writing, then just go find someone else to bully. You’re nothing but a mean, bitter, ingorant bully and you should be ashamed of yourself.


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