Social Question

Berserker's avatar

How much did you play outside as a kid?

Asked by Berserker (33548points) October 4th, 2015
36 responses
“Great Question” (6points)

You see this often all over the internet, posters and declarations about how kids today are just on their phones all day and don’t play outside, and then usually concluded by “when I was a kid, I drank from the garden hose” and so forth. Never mind the fact that people post this with their phones, tablets and computers haha.

Sometimes I wonder just how much stuff changes though. When I was a kid there was cable TV, video games and kids talking on landline phones for hours. Oh I played outside a lot, but there was a lot of technology around. Played outside as default for being dirt poor haha.

So what did you have as a kid? Were you outside a lot? What kind of games did you play? Did you explore woods, climb all over garage roofs? Or were you always inside? What kind of technology was around in your day? Also, what years were you a kid in?
No need to absolutely answer all that, but how much were you outside, and what did you do?

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SQUEEKY2's avatar

Shit I lived on my dirt bike, up in the mountains exploreing .
Man even rainy days couldn’t get me in,and had more fun shooting rooster tails ,and spinning out in the mud.

Berserker's avatar

I loved playing out in the rain too. It always felt different, especially long rains which caused the day to be darker. Not many people would be outside, and the ones who were, they’d walk all fast with their heads bowed. Felt like another world. Messing around in the woods during rain is great. :) and muddy

cookieman's avatar

I was constantly outside. Mostly riding my bike all over the place. And yes, I did drink from a hose.

Berserker's avatar

I drank straight from the tap, because we couldn’t ‘ford no blasted hose.

chyna's avatar

All the time, until the street lines came on. In all weather.

jca's avatar

Nobody here yet said what years they were a kid during.

I was a kid in the early 70’s and I was outside a lot. Not constantly, but a lot. I’d walk about a mile to a friend’s house and we’d walk all over the town, playing in the school yard, wandering. As far as games, jump rope was big. Riding bikes was big. I’d also take walks with my mom a lot. We’d walk to the village (a small affluent village) and shop in the stationery store, book store, toy store. We’d walk to the lake and walk around it. We’d bring bread for the geese and ducks. We’d sit on the benches and hang out. I’d go sleigh riding in the winter.

I’d be in the house, sometimes, too. I’m not saying I was out 24/7. In the house, there were books or I’d do things like water paint. My mom would sew and I’d help her do crafty stuff. TV only had three main channels (no cable existed yet). I Love Lucy was big (reruns), Brady Bunch and Partridge Family were big, too. Weekend mornings were cartoons. There were no children’s channels like there are now. There were a few children’s shows and that was it.

I read books a lot.

There were only landline phones, no answering machines.

I had a really nice childhood.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (3points)
Cruiser's avatar

When I was a kid I was up at the crack of dawn and sat on my friends back yard until he woke up and then we were outside rain or shine till dinner. We built tree forts and vacant lots we claimed as our turf to do and explore as we pleased. It probably helped that TV was only 3 channels of Black and White nothingness so being outside with the neighborhood kids was way more exciting. We played baseball/whiffle ball in the summer and football and built snow forts in the winter. Probably why I spend so much time outside even now as it is in my DNA

Coloma's avatar

Kid in the 60’s.
Played outside all the time. Rode my bike gazillions of miles, swam a lot at the public pool in a nice park only 2 blocks form my house. Played in the park, the playground, monkey bars, swings.

Caught frogs and pollywogs in the creek that ran through the park.
Played with my model horses and Barbis making little stick corrals and setting them up in the grass and bushes. Played hide and seek, or, we called it “Ditch ‘em.”
Played in the sprinklers, rode skateboards, played baseball in the backyard, mowed the lawn to look like a baseball diamond, played frisbee, went miniature golfing, always on the go from morning til after dark in the summers.

Parents never worried, ran in for dinner for 15 minutes then out again til dark.

JLeslie's avatar

I was outside a lot, especially when I was very young. Once I hit the teenage years I was outside a lot in the summertime still, but not so much in the winter.

As a young child we had outside recess at school. After school I rode my bike, played in a playground, went to the pool during the summer, sledding in the winter, ice skating, walked to town, walked to school, tennis, camp, all sorts of outside stuff.

As a teen I watched more TV after school than when I was younger, but I still was at the pool a ton during the summer, I walked to friends houses after school. On weekends my boyfriend’s family met up at a park to play soccer or basketball, sometimes there was also a picnic.

jca's avatar

Oh yeah @Coloma reminded me – in the park playground, a big thing I liked a lot was the see saw. You don’t see them any more. I wonder if it’s a liability because kids might have gotten hurt on them. Anyway, I liked the swings and the see saw, and the monkey bars.

At home, too, (reminded by @Coloma), I played with Barbies and stuffed animals.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (2points)
Pachy's avatar

A lot! I have very clear memories of running around on weekday evenings and weekends with my lots of boys—even after my family got our first (and the neighborhood’s first) TV set. Army and cowboys were our favorite games.

stanleybmanly's avatar

We lived outside growing up. You slept inside, and watched tv in the evenings (sometimes). If it rained hard, you went inside whoever’s house was closest and played board games or card games and devoured whatever wasn’t locked up. Marbles, yo-yos, tops, kites, jump ropes, baseball, basketball, bicycles, roller skates, ice skates, sleds, badminton, football, volleyball, horseshoes.

jca's avatar

I keep thinking of more things – I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house, and I was also very close to my grandmother. She was like a second mother to me. She taught me to sew, crochet, embroider and do all kinds of stitches and crafts. She was also like the neighborhood mother to kids down the street, one of whom I’m best friends with to this day. My grandmother would bake stuff and the neighborhood kids would come over and play in the yard, and we’d take paths down to the river (big famous river in NY). My grandparents’ property went down to the river, so we’d take paths down and explore. Also with my grandparents we’d walk up to a city park which was about three miles away, and we’d walk around there. It’s a big park with formal gardens that are still in existence today. My grandmother took me shopping, too. She didn’t drive, so either my grandfather drove us or we took the bus or train.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (1points)
JLeslie's avatar

Swings, see saw, monkey bars, slide, and the most exciting was the merry-go-round!

DominicY's avatar

I was a kid in the late 90s early 2000s and I spent plenty of time outside. We had a big yard and I was always playing outside with friends or siblings (whether it was my house, somebody else’s, or a park). I was very into skateboarding and BMX when I was around 10–12 and that gave me more excuse to be outside. I did of course enjoy computer games at the time, so I had plenty I liked to do inside, but I wouldn’t say that it really ate into my time outside. Also, living in Nevada/California meant good weather for most of the year.

Even though to some of the older users here, the late 90s/early 2000s doesn’t seem like that long ago, but there are significant differences between the time I was a kid and nowadays. There was no such thing as kids my age having cell phones back then and tablets weren’t even around. I simply do see more kids with electronic devices now and I’m sure that affects time spent outside.

marinelife's avatar

We were outside all day every day usually until dark. I still managed to read a lot though.

josie's avatar

Outside. Always.

I grew up in a small house, so it was sort of cramped anyway.

My dad was an “rugged outdoorsman”. If I hung around indoors too long, he would chase me out or give me outdoor chores to do do.

Baseball, basketball (outdoors in spring and summer) and football depending on the season.

Motorcycle was my mode of transportation for a lot of my teenage years.

I did not grow up with a cell phone or similar device, so I don’t know about that.

Judi's avatar

as far back as I can remember (4 at least) I would leave home in the morning an go play in the park across the street. I would come home when I got hungry and when it got dark. Today my parents would have been arrested for neglect, and truthfully, I was a sad child because I felt like no one really cared where I was.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Early Sixties. There were nine of us; seven kids and two parents. It was a crowded home. I spent a lot of time outside. I went exploring alone or with my big brother, played sandlot baseball with the neighborhood kids, touch or flag football in the middle of our quiet suburban street. We had impromptu bicycle races that sometimes involved ten or more kids, then the final race between the two or three fastest kids.

I loved construction sites after the workers went home. I used to climb all over the machinery. There were trenches to explore. We had trench warfare with dirt clods. I started a big yellow Caterpillar once, the turned it off and ran like hell.

There was an old, three story Victorian house on a hill with raggedy curtains and sunlit turret rooms upstairs and spooky, darkly paneled rooms downstairs—just perfect for kids. I found old newspapers, funnies, from the 1920s in there. We never went there at night. It was our clubhouse for awhile until they tore it down.

I would make cozy caves connected by winding tunnels in the ten-foot-tall cattails with my dog. He would bore the initial tunnels and I would follow, then we’d both roll around and flatten them out into a comfortable soft bed and voila!—a fort insulated from the outside world and nothing but blue sky above. There were some large oaks in a big wild wheat field nearby and we’ll built tree forts that lasted for years.

On weekends free from school and on summer days I would hop on my bike in the morning, take off with my dog for the foothills and get home just in time for dinner. I would bike to the river, explore the switchback trails and caves carved into the cliffs. My big brother and I would catch trout, build a fire and play like we were the gold miners who had been on the river a hundred years earlier.

We had pollywog fights down along the creek under the poplars and beech trees. Where the creek pooled, we’d put a small piece of bread or baloney on a string and tempt crawdads to clamp onto it then fish them out of the water. We threw the little ones back and kept the biggest. Then we’d tease the crawdads into fighting one another for the Crawdad World Championship.

We took an old lawn mower motor and attached it onto a Sting Ray bike frame with bailing wire and made a mini-bike then wreaked havoc in the neighborhood; riding uncontrollably through flower gardens and scraping a neighbor’s car. We made our own bows and arrows from instructions in an old Boy Scout manual. My brothers and I would sleep on the roof in our sleeping bags and learn the stars from the same manual. We made our own tents out of some old duck a neighbor was throwing away. We raised rabbits in hutches in the backyard and gave the bunnies to girls at school on Easter.

The only time I remember being inside was to do homework or watch the afternoon movie with my mom. It was the only quiet time this wonderful, harried mother of seven had and I was the only one who could sit quietly. I felt special and I enjoyed the old movies as much as she. Those are good memories.

Damn. I swear the sky was bluer, the sun brighter and the air much sweeter in those days.

Mimishu1995's avatar

At least much more than now. The younger I was the more time I spent outside. And I noticed that trend in other kids too. Also there was that small park packed with children stuff. That was where we mostly spent our time. There was video games and TV too, but video games were a luxury, and TV programs were predictable so we could balance between playing outside and TV. There was not much to do at home generally.

Today kids still play outside, but the age when they “retire” is earlier. There is so much to do at home with a computer or a smart phone, and the park has been converted into an adult-only stadium. If I were a kid I wouldn’t find the will to play outside too.

Judi's avatar

I wonder if it would be helpful to know what decade people were kids in? I was in the ‘60’s

Cruiser's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus You and I lived parallel lives…as early as 8 yrs old we were left to our own devices and make our own decisions and outcomes of whatever it was that came our way. Our parents were merely there to apply Bactine and fresh bandages and push us back out the door. The sky was bluer and the street lights were dimmer until they installed the screaming yellow zonkers meant to scare all the curfew dodgers home on time.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Sorta split 2 decades for me late 70’s and early 80’s. those where the teen age years.

Mimishu1995's avatar

By the way I’m from the late ‘90s – early 2000s. But maybe you already know that through my avatar.

Berserker's avatar

Split here too. Was a kid in the 80’s, teen in the 90’s.

geeky_mama's avatar

70s and 80s kid here. Lived outside. Spent my summers in a bathing suit alternately swimming, reading (in a hammock I made out of an old sheet tied in our apple tree’s branches) or bike riding. Put on shorts to slide down the ravine hill and catch crawdads in the creek.

Bad weather found me flopped on my bed reading and reading and reading.
I also occasionally rode my bike long distances (like 20+ mile bike rides) or to a DQ that was about 5 miles away. I also rode to the library to volunteer (shelving books).

Basically, reading, swimming, biking or playing in the mud. That sums up my childhood. Aside from rainy weather you’d find me outside 85% of the time.

ibstubro's avatar

Late 60’s, early 70’s.
During the summer break I often got up at dawn, ate some breakfast, packed a sandwich lunch, then headed to the woods. We had no neighbors and my brother and sister were older and competitive, so I spent my days flipping flat rocks in the creek so I could catch & release salamanders or hiding in my multiflora rose fort (huge thornbush that was hollow in the middle, but with only one entrance – probably an animal’s lair!)
In the winter I didn’t mind ‘brisk’, but never liked bitter cold and I had a short tolerance for snow. I’d rather be indoors reading, or playing with my Hot Wheels. The burbling chortling creek was my best friend, and when it froze/shut up, I’d just as soon be warm and entertain myself.
TV was 2 channels here up until I got about teenage. NBC & CBS. “Operation” was a high tech game (meaning it took batteries!).

johnpowell's avatar

In the 80’s and early 90’s we were pretty much always outside. No internet or cable tv. Get home from school and eat. Swim, skateboard, try to jump over the net in the tennis court, get band-aids, baseball, basketball, skateboarding, capture the flag, have the older girls teach us how to kiss. 10PM go inside. I lived in a big apartment complex so there were tons of kids around. We were barely ever inside.

Stinley's avatar

1970s Scotland, seaside town. We played outside if it wasn’t raining. And sometimes if it was. We played tennis, skipping, hopscotch, hide and seek, climbing trees and walls, den building, bikes, walking to the shop about 1 mile away, walking to the beach about 2 miles away, cycling to the airport about 3 miles away. We spent hours playing ‘chuckies’ also known as jacks or five stones.

Judi's avatar

@Stinley, my grandkids live in Scotland. I’m surprised by the lack of playground equipment at the schools. They play on the asphalt and aren’t even given balls to play with. I guess it encourages imagination.

Stinley's avatar

@Judi we live in England now and there is little play equipment at the primary schools here also

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The biggest difference between when I was a child in the US (60’s-70’s) and now is the fear for a child’s safety and the addiction to technology. Today, both seem to keep most children indoors. I wouldn’t give up my childhood experiences outside for anything.

A few that haven’t been mentioned so far are trick-or-treating and investigating homes being built in the neighborhood. Unique to our area was an abandoned monastery. Friends and I would ride our bikes over to it to play tennis on the crumbling court. Occasionally, we’d ask the grounds-keeper for the key to get inside, and he’d always oblige. The place was massive and full of mystery. To this day, I still wonder how a moose head came to be stored in their basement.

Jaxk's avatar

Growing up in the 50s was a lot of fun. We lived in a very small 2 bedroom house and with three boys there was little room to do anything at home. Rules were pretty loose and coming home at dark wasn’t common. I remember Halloween was a real treat because if you stayed out late, people ran out of candy and would give you pennies, maybe even a nickel. That’s when things got lucrative. Living in the LA basin weather wasn’t usually a problem but the rains would bring flooding, that was a real treat as well. This was before all the water ways were cemented so the drainage ditches were ditches. Riding our bikes 20 miles to the beach was common. I can still remember a dairy farm on Crenshaw Blvd that’s been gone for more than 50 years now. Making slingshots out of coathangers and rubber bands. making clothes pin guns that shot kitchen matches. Shooting cans in the air with firecrackers. We didn’t have much money but we were certainly active.

jca's avatar

It is widely believed that the 1979 disappearance of Etan Patz is what changed attitudes toward child rearing and children’s independence forever. Prior to that, kids had free rein, walking the neighborhood, as I did, as a young child, out for hours, wandering around with friends. After the disappearance of Etan Patz, it would now be illegal and/or a CPS report for a young child to wander far from home.

jca (36062points)“Great Answer” (3points)
Adirondackwannabe's avatar

As a kid in the 60’s I was outside from sunup to sundown. Later I worked, but that was outside most of the time.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@Cruiser Yeah, Bactine and bandages, Jeez. Can you imagine being raised in today’s paranoid environment where everything is supervised and kids can’t roam free to their own devices? We live in a world where they handcuff, taser and drag kids off to jail for some of the things I did on my way to adulthood. I was brought home by the scruff of the neck by an irate neighbor due to the mini-bike incident (Hey, we couldn’t figure out how to put brakes on the damn thing, so we just used our feet, which turned out to be a bad idea), not dragged off to jail by surly cops armed to the teeth in bullet-proof vests.

Gone are the days when mothers ran the neighborhood by conspiracy formulated during their coffee klatches, teas, and the weekend cocktail parties in their own homes. They all had each others’ telephone numbers. Eyes were on us through those kitchen windows, but it was an unobtrusive, passive, collective and efficient surveillance. Gone are the days when a good spanking sufficed, instead of a term in Juvy, a police record, an introduction to really bad kids, and a good schooling on how to work the system they rightfully believe is working against them. I hate the way things have gone. It’s not good for kids and it’s not good for society.

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