Growing up, I didn't have any technology to distract me. So I would wander around the beautiful countryside I was brought up in ...
We'd run as fast as we could through the fields and up the lanes to collect my shoes from where I'd hidden them in the hedgerow. After pulling various twigs out of my hair and brushing the soil off me, I'd skip up the lane towards home, with my faithful companion at my side.
I'd reach the back door, have my face washed vigorously by my Grandma and my hair brushed, then I would sit down at a table heaving with egg sandwiches, homemade coleslaw and a wobbly lime jelly in the shape of a crouching rabbit. Patrick would be chowing down on a well-deserved bowl of food after once more bringing his charge home safe and sound.
Well, it was; as far as I can remember. I didn't have a care in the world and my memories of that time, in the early seventies, was one of fields, woods, leafy lanes, fluffy clouds floating through a deep blue sky and my beloved dog Patrick by my side.
Scroll forward along my timeline and nearly forty years later, you'll find me running a successful online marketing company and immersed every day in technology. I love this too - don't get me wrong - but my memories take me back to a time when the only computers I knew of existed on the bridge of the Enterprise NCC-1701 or under the control of Doctor Who.
I think children of today miss out on so much. I climbed trees, built dens and ran barefoot through field and forest. If I fell over and scratched my knee, my dog would usually lick it until it stopped bleeding. If I got stung by Nettles, I'd grab some Dock leaves out of the hedgerow. I loved finding my Granddad's secret Elderberry bushes and giving him updates on how ripe the berries were so we could spend an afternoon picking them together to make wine.
Text Messaging, Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messenger. Kids of today can keep in touch at the press of a button. I had to actually go round to my friends' houses and, in my politest voice, ask their mum if they were playing out. If she said just for half an hour, you knew she meant it!
But is evolution keeping pace with technology? Or are we just breeding a generation of children who can't be sociable face-to-face and would rather meet people in an online game than become friends with a bunch of kids they met whilst swinging on a rope across a stream?
As I said earlier in this tome, I am immersed in technology every day. I have to be as my whole company is based on the premise of reaching out to people on the Internet. And that's a good thing because it earns me a solid income.
But I wonder if I had be born in the nineties whether I would be capable of creating a company like mine? Could I write to a very high standard? Would I be the outgoing entrepreneurial free spirit that I am today? Would I have received the level of training I got at college to ignite my passion for programming and computers and switch on that desire to know more and more?
I don't consider myself to be old. I'm in the prime of my life and have never been happier with the well-rounded human being that I have become, despite the Universe's many attempts to kill me over the years. I certainly don't raise my eyebrows and think "*pffft* kids today", but I do worry about them and the social skills they are developing.
Do we need to take the bubble wrap off our kids? We keep them indoors because we fear for their safety, we keep our houses spotless because we don't want them to get ill. We give them all the technology the want because it's an easy way to keep them quiet whilst we work all the hours The Goddess sends just to keep a roof over our heads.
In reality, do we need to push them out the door with a sandwich and tell them not to get into trouble under penalty of a good spanking and be back for dinner? Let them climb trees and swing ropes over streams until it snaps and they go tumbling down a small cliff and end up sitting in cold water with a gash on their forehead. It never did me any harm, although having to explain the cuts, bruises, gashes and breaks always got me into trouble afterwards.
Could you do it? Could you shove them out of the door for the day? Difficult, I understand, in a city with dangers around every corner, but what about in suburbia? In a rural location? Could you make them go out and play? Would you want to?
But ... there were just as many kiddy fiddlers around in my day as there is today, we just didn't hear about them on the news! One time, when a scruffy bloke in a flat cap with really bad breath tried to grab me down a country lane, the only thing that stopped my beloved Patrick from ripping his throat out was that it was time for tea and we'd both heard my Granddad's whistle so bolted up the lane at top speed.
I understand that my thoughts today could polarise my readership and I expect some comments about irresponsible thinking and mentions that I don't have kids so I don't understand - but my parents had a kid and they understood. Some people may even say that the early seventies were an easier time, but were they? Were they really?
I live in a village and my only worries come down to the fact my cats are going to come into contact with wild Foxes and Badgers or get mowed down on the country lane outside my house. Would I let my kids roam in this environment? Yes, of course I would. In suburbia? Maybe. If I lived in a city? Hmmm, maybe not.
But the one thing I do know is that the technology I love is outpacing our evolution. If our kids spend all their time in their bedroom surfing the net and texting their friends, how are they really going to learn to socialise and become well rounded human beings?
Is it time to make them go and 'play out' like we used to?
If anything I've mentioned here resonates with you, do call me on 0333 335 0420 and let's see how I can help.