Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Your screen life is not your real life

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There was truth in the old Buggles song, Video Killed the Radio Star. These days, though, we can change the title to The Internet Killed our Social Skills.

I get it, we live in a digital age.

Even my 70-year-old father loves Facebook and searching for new bad jokes. My mother cracks up at a picture of a dog with a melon on its head with the caption "Melon Collie."

This summer I have seen small children, 20somethings, middle-aged folks and senior citizens taking advantage of the sunny days. But the brutal truth about kids aged eight to 18 is that seeing them outdoors is so rare that sightings should be captured for a Discovery Channel documentary.

The last several years, parks all over north Winnipeg have been renovated to appeal to people of all ages, providing green spaces, benches and play structures. There is also a beautiful little skate park in Riverbend. But, frankly, these parks are barren most of the time.

Just last week I saw two children, approximately 10 to 12 years old, in one of these parks. Dumbfounded and surprised, I had to investigate. I was quickly disappointed, however, when I saw they were just sitting and swaying on the swings, mesmerized by their phones. For 15 minutes they did not look up from their phones or even converse with each other. Eventually  one said "Check this out," and showed the other something on his phone.  It was 26 degrees and the sun was setting, yet they were oblivious to anything else.

The next day, I went to the Riverbend skate park at noon and was baffled to find it empty except for a lone boy riding the ramps like he was the next pro BMXer. In my day, a skate park would have at had two dozen people enjoying the day by noon.

In reality, these parks are our tax dollars literally rusting away. There’s just under a month left until school starts, which means it won’t be long until kids will be complaining about how they miss summer.

So please, enjoy the outdoors.

Go to the park, go for an adventure, go to the pool or try a splash pad (they’re adult-friendly, I swear), before it’s too late.

Don’t live your life through a screen.

Christina Hryniuk is a community correspondent for West Kildonan.

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