How to play in 2010

Nothing probably highlights how dramatically the world has changed, more than when you watch your kids play – and see the toys they now play with.

As a child, playing was something that took real hard work, it was never just handed to us on a plate. Games had to be invented and imagination put into overdrive, and of course, if we ever looked like we were bored for a millisecond, we were sent out to weed the front drive.

I played with dolls that cried and wet themselves. I climbed up trees and galloped around the field next like a horse. I had a hand puppet called Spit the Dog and a bin called Dusty. I remember being wowed by the revolutionary Rubik’s Cube and simply blown away when we got our Commodore 64. Amazing thing that was, it had a cassette deck to rewind the games and a whole 64kB of RAM.

Now that may seem unimaginable to techies in this decade, but you’ve got to remember that this was at a time when the microwave oven was only just becoming part of the kitchen scenery, and having a Soda Stream was the very height of cool.

These days most dolls have a better wardrobe (and car) than I do. Hell, my daughters Barbie has her own private jet and a tour bus with a built-in spa. Go into any toy shop and everything now seems to walk, talk or dance. Batteries are a given and an Internet connection more often than not a necessity.

Light years in development since the humble Commodore 64 , computers of today are small enough to fit in your pocket and powerful enough to launch a space shuttle.

Technology has certainly gotten out of control. You know that for sure when you can play 18 holes of golf in your living room, buy a pair of shoes from someone on the other side of the world and spend every spare minute caring  for a 1 dimensional pet – though seriously, what is the draw of looking after a puppy on-screen?

Change isn’t a bad thing of course, it’s just what happens. I know at the age of 8 I’d certainly rather have been able to jump around on an interactive dance mat with my ‘Bop It’, than have to sift through tonnes of gravel looking for another weed.

The other day I was watching my kids at play, spreading small plastic toys across the floor and building cubbies. Then the zoo animals came out, and my son decided to use a book to make a small tent, so that a pair of cheetahs and a goose could have a sleep – or so I thought.

But this is 2010 and the cheetahs had no intention of sleeping. Instead they were in there with Barbie’s laptop, staying connected to the world.

“Cheetahs are talking to Nana Dee on Sky”, my son informed us. That would be Skype to you or me.

“No they’re not”, responded my daughter, “they’re reading an email, then they’re going to watch Eastenders that Mummy downloaded last night.” Yes, it’s a very modern world our children are being brought up in.

God only knows what toys the next generation will have to play with, but I’m sure by the time I’m shopping for my grandchildren they will need a degree in mechanical engineering, a V8 engine and a litre of environmentally friendly rocket fuel.

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