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evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo

The joy of being a child

Oftentimes, we forget how important it is for our children to be children. You only get to be a child once, so don't spend it worrying too much about the future

evarist_bartolo
Evarist Bartolo
6 September 2017, 7:30am
Childhood is magical. You only get to be a child once, so don’t spend it worrying too much about the future. You will be busy when you’re older, so I hope you take time to smell all the flowers and put all the leaves you want in your bucket now”. These are the words of Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, to his recently-born daughter August.

Despite leading the world’s largest social media website, he goes on: “The world can be a serious place. That’s why it’s important to make time to go outside and play.”

Often times, we forget how important it is for our children to be children. I do think that today’s gadgets have taken away an important part of being a child. The constant stream of apps, games and content is turning children into digital zombies. It’s almost the same ‘addiction’ as those playing the slot machine for hours on end: a mindless and colourless task in search of an artificial prize. Of course, it’s not easy being a parent nowadays.

It’s very easy to just give them a tablet and let them do whatever they do on it. It keeps them quiet, doesn’t it? But what we’re seeing is not children using tablets and consoles for an hour or two, but for entire days. Sometimes you see them in family outings at a restaurant. If it’s two parents and two children they’re all fixated on their device. I’d assume it’s a one-off opportunity for some good quality time and conversation but they’re all stuck clicking away.

A generation or two back, it was television. But even there, the quality of the content was not always good. Children often had a time-window dedicated to them, with the programmes they’d like and that was it. Now, today’s children don’t know what being bored means. Playing outside is seen something impossible, for various reasons. Social interaction is declining and that is a big problem because we need to live and work with other people, and getting accustomed to that social paradigm at a young age is very important.

"People nowadays are trying to live and juggle different responsibilities, and that's fine. To each their own. But we must also guide tomorrow's generation into something more"
The good news is that parents today are not alone. On the internet (yes, I know) there are countless forms of aid to help you get your children interested in all sorts of things. One of the most important jobs as a parent is helping the children discover who they are, and what they’re good at. Children need to be exposed to a different variety of things in order to help them find a passion or learn something new. Whether it’s a sport, music or whatever area they’re interested in, the job as a parent is to nourish that fire. In the middle of all this action, it’s positive that from a young age they’ve instilled other values such as humanity and caring for the well-being of others, through voluntary work. Sometimes even a one-off experience once in a while can have a lasting effect on a child, showing by example that people depend on the love and care of one another.

"One of the most important jobs as a parent is helping the children discover who they are, and what they're good at"
We live in a very fast-paced society. People nowadays are trying to live and juggle different responsibilities, and that’s fine. To each their own. But we must also guide tomorrow’s generation into something more. Allow them to be children and play outside and to be carefree. Once you’re an adult things won’t remain the same. As Mr Zuckerberg says: take time to smell all the flowers.

Evarist Bartolo is minister for education and employment

DealToday
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