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Children playing as rare as a 10-point buck

Some of my avid hunter friends share stories with me about how rare it is to spot a deer from their tree stands. Sometimes they will sit in their stands for hours on a Saturday morning and not see even one rack or white tail.

Well, I would like to challenge my buddies to sit in a tree stand in our local neighborhoods and see how many children they spot outside playing or engaging in some kind of physical activity.

Sightings like these could be even more rare than spotting a 10-point buck.

But what is keeping children from peddling around neighborhoods on their bikes or engaging in a game of hoops?

I would venture a guess it’s their home arcade system they plop down in front of for hours at a time and three billion cable channels to which they have access.

Now I’m not going to share stories of how I walked to school up hill, both ways in the snow or how we had to make our toys when I was a kid.

I didn’t. I’m only 26 years old and I had similar “boob boxes” that helped me waste time in my youth and kept me from doing my homework, but it was rare for me to spend more than an hour a day playing them.

And an Atari and Nintendo hardly holds a candle to the lifelike games children can play today on their XBOX and Playstation 2.

One shouldn’t even try to make comparisons between “Q-Bert” and the ultra violent “Grand Theft Auto” series, a game that allows a player to complete missions for various crime bosses including, but not limited to, grand theft, robbery and homicide, etc.

I would say most parents would not want their children playing such games, but playing any game for hours on end is a waste of time and can lead to obesity.

According to the American Obesity Association, a research organization largely funded by the federally funded National Institutes of Health, lack of regular exercise, high frequency of computer usage and similar behavior that takes up time that could have been used for physical activity contribute to child and adolescent obesity.

Now the argument can be made that genetics plays a role in a child being overweight, which the AOA lists as a non-changeable factor.

But why add fuel to the fire?

If obesity is in a child’s genes, he or she should be encouraged even more to get outside and ride a bike. It could only help their physical condition.

Another argument could be made that children are involved in youth athletic leagues, which I applaud any parent for encouraging their child to take part in, but additional exercise doesn’t hurt and spending time with the neighborhood kids could build lifelong friendships.

I’m still in touch with five people that grew up in my neighborhood, and one is even my current roommate.

Getting kids out playing together builds the conceptualization of neighborhood, where you know your neighbors because your child plays with theirs.

Or is that concept slowly fading?

Video games, multiple cable channels and even the Internet could be responsible for dissolving another family concept — sitting around the dinner table and talking about your day.

Does this still happen, or are parents and children alike eating their meals while watching “Friends” or “Dawson’s Creek” on a 60-inch big screen?

I believe eating at the dinner table could only be beneficial and keep parents and kids more in touch with what is going on in their lives.

Now, I’m not in favor of tossing out home video game machines, I own one, but rather limiting your child’s use.

That coupled with eating together each night could only strengthen the family and neighborhood bond, and possibly make for a healthier lifestyle for children.

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