Claire J wonders if there’s any limit to what children want.
So my niece turns 10 this week. God knows what she is going to get for her birthday because she already seems to have absolutely everything she could possibly want. An iPhone, an iPod of some sort, a television and DVD player, a Wii, a Nintendo 3DS and various other gadgets and gizmos I haven’t even heard of.
She’s a lovely girl, and I’m not claiming that she’s spoilt in any way…she’s no different, it seems, from every other 10 year old. She tells me that some of her classmates get picked on because they don’t have a “cool” mobile. 10 year old girls in 2012 wear makeup to parties, straighten their hair, lust after expensive labels like Hollister and Jack Wills, and are often more tech savvy than their parents. How did this happen? When I was 10 (1988, if you must know) my friends and I still played with Barbie, went to bed at 8pm and genuinely believed in Santa Claus (no, it wasn’t just me!).
You can’t blame the kids. They’re encouraged to use computers in school (which I accept is a positive thing), and you’d be hard pushed to find an 8 year old who can’t bring up the Google search box and type the words “is Santa real?” They only have to wait 0.16 seconds for the answer (about 343,000,000 answers, actually). The big, bad, expensive world is right at their fingertips.
So who is to blame? The parents? Maybe. I’m in no position to point the finger. My children haven’t even started school yet, so I have no idea what it’s like to be a mother of a tween who is pleading for all the latest must-haves and crying because she can’t celebrate her birthday in a pink stretch limo. But I’m already thinking about it, because one day I will be that mother. What will the world be like when my 17 month old daughter turns 10? Will kids expect a birthday party on the moon in 2020? Their own personal assistant? Simply because everybody else has one? If everyone else has one, how can a parent look their child in the eyes and say “I’m sorry, but you’re not getting it”, when this leaves them open to ridicule and possibly even bullying? Peer pressure and bullying are not modern behaviours by any means, but I think the materialistic undercurrent is.
What has caused this massive change in society, where 10 year old kids get £200 phones for their birthdays and their parties cost the same as a week-long package holiday? Has the world become more greedy and materialistic in general?
I don’t want my children to miss out, and I accept that the the birthday present bar has been raised ten-fold since I was a child. It’s not just about the money – it’s the fact that so many of them seem to expect so much. I recently blogged about the books I loved to read as a child – perhaps this has got me reminiscing about those times and making comparisons between then and now. Things seemed so much simpler back then.
When I started thinking about all those Enid Blyton treasures, I couldn’t stop. So I’ve been searching the internet for the exact editions that I adored as a child (I salute you, eBay!). I’m like a child on Christmas morning every time a small, slim package drops through my letterbox. Except I’m ripping open a parcel containing a dog-eared, 1985 edition of a 60-year old children’s book, not a shiny, expensive gadget.
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