Were We The Last Kids To Play Outside?

Have you ever really thought about the iPad? The iPad was invented by adults who had to play outside when they were kids. But then consider this current generation where the majority of kids sit inside staring at... an iPad.

It's actually kind of terrifying, but the iPad may actually cause future “iPads” from being invented and built.

Let's face it, from the moment you held an iPad, you knew it was a remarkable piece of technology. And art. And you knew that to build it, a team of brilliant people had to solve critical problems, invent countless parts and continually choose to not give up.

I remember a story one Apple executive told of his team receiving all the parts for the new iPad and then having to figure out how to fit them all into the smallest shell possible. It had to be thin, light and beautiful. How did they do it?

Not only that, but how did they think to create something like an iPad in the first place?

Then I remembered growing up. Most days were spent running around the backyard, hooking up hoses, and sprinklers, building forts with tarps and wood and even creating little ant houses with small twigs for walls, ramps and furniture.

I thought back to racing out to my garden the morning after planting beans or peas to see if they had magically sprouted over night, or making whistles by blowing on thick blades of grass (even though I was terrible at it.

Then, in the winter months when it was too cold to be outside, the thousands of hours creating whole worlds, governments and economies out of Legos and Monopoly money. I didn’t like sets, I just wanted a bucket of Legos to build whatever my little head could dream up.

If you’re over the age of 30 or 40, I’m sure you have similar stories of adventures in the woods - of having to solve problems and think outside the box. You probably recall creating your own fun with seemingly boring items.

You weren’t dependent on someone else’s creativity and ingenuity. You knew how to dream.

You didn’t need someone else to entertain you or design things for you to have fun with. You could create a full and complete game with sticks.

I believe that when the generation of Apple creators sat down to dream up their next product, they subconsciously drew back on their own “backyard” roots.

They knew how to solve problems because they had solved them before. They knew how to dream up new possibilities because they had been doing that since they were a kid.

Which brings me to a scary thought. If we allow the current generation to be satisfied only thinking within a small, flat box, we’ll rob them of the curiosity and creativity that it took to build that very device they’re holding.

And if we don’t remove easy entertainment from our children, they’ll never learn to create their own.

Now I don’t know what the answer is for your family and your children but we must be drastic. It’s time to stop saying, “But it’s just easier to plop them down with the iPad.” I used to be the king of that but something had to change. We were lucky enough to be able to buy a small farm.

Even Steve Jobs, the visionary behind the iPad, didn’t let his kids use the iPad. He pushed them to play outside, read books and be fascinated with good conversation.

It’s time to look inward. Are we losing the sense of wonder that we used to posses? Are our children simply following in our footsteps? Are we grownups forgetting the adventures we had? Are we lazily reading Twitter instead of showing our kids the endless possibilities of curiosity and dreams?

We have the potential to create a new generation of kids who can imagine and explore - who can think outside the box and create exciting things.

If we don’t, the future “iPads” (or whatever is next) won’t be created.

So let’s raise a generation of kids that build bird houses and sprinkler shows. A generation that plants bean seeds, builds forts and has tea parties or whatever else their minds can dream up.

Their future depends on it.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.

- Thomas A. Edison