Every so often we come across things that become portals to the past. Oddly, a devastating news served such purpose for me when I read about how a Korean college student died after playing online games for seven consecutive hours in August this year, just a month after a 20-year-old Britain man died after playing Xbox for 12 straight hours. Not only was it disturbing, it was also a reminder of how amusement has evolved through time.
Whenever my parents would tell us stories about their childhood, playing on muddy fields and flying kites—and even running away from rumored town witches—I always wound up envious. Never did I imagine that one day I’d reminisce on my own childhood and think about what the future generations could be missing; now imagine how jealous they can be.
We only had the Nintendo Family Computer then. It was crude but it offered so much entertainment with Super Mario, Circus Charlie, Battle City, the classic version of Tetris, and other games that came with the 36 in 1 game cartridge. I was only around 8 years old then, but I can still vividly remember how my mother would always tell us to never spend long hours playing the computer or it might explode with all the little pieces of Mario and Luigi. Although it was heartbreaking to let go of Charlie and his nemesis monkey, it never took my siblings and I too long to find other means of enjoyment, for the 90s, as it has turned out now, was a sepia-toned yet colorful film that captures what childhood should be truly about.
When you were a kid, did you also bite the tiny silver edge on your pencil to squeeze out the eraser? Did you also eat spoonfuls of powdered chocolate milk while watching TV? Did you sing right in front of the electric fan because your voice seemed to modulate really well there? Did you also believe that those colorful tiny scented balls called kisses would multiply when wrapped in a ball of cotton? Did you get the chance to taste the santan nectar? Did you also write your name (or your crush’s) on the dusted windows of your neighbor’s car?
Carefree. That’s how things used to work for kids before. It was a time when playhouse was really about real children taking roles and exercising their imaginations, and not just virtually simulated characters that move with a click of the mouse. It was about dancing in the rain and marveling at the “waterfalls” the roof water pipes transformed into, not realizing that it’s the same pipes where cats leave their waste. It was an era of little heads trying to think big and working to be innovative—just because they seek more adventures.
Technology has evidently taken its toll on the young. Researchers are questioning the effects on children who spend excessive amounts of time using modern technology like social networking and text messaging. It is not the fact that they are fascinated with these tools that is alarming; rather, it is the thought that they can’t seem to live without them. Sitting in front of a computer for too long may not only lead to poor vision, it may also affect the formation of basic skills of human interaction and create an undesirable impact on a child’s social interactions.
The world is moving fast and what used to be fun in our parent’s time may not be as fun in ours, and what used to fun in our time may not be as fun in our offspring’s time. I don’t know how pencil cases look now, but during what now seemed to be ages ago, they were hard case and had many buttons and secret compartments. They now call it vintage pencil boxes. Vintage is a portal that opens a nostalgic lane of memories. There is nothing you can do to turn back time and revel in its excitement, but you can hold on to these memories and make good use of them. After all, there’s nothing wrong with giving the younger ones a sneak peek of what it was like to grow up in a time when delight was simpler yet so much safer. ♥
* This article first appeared in The Philippine Star.