An Open Letter to Kids of the Future

Dear Kids of the Future,

As I am approaching my eighteenth birthday--the day I will officially be able to vote, buy lottery tickets, and order from those stupid infomercials without my parents' permission--I have been reflecting on my childhood. I remember Barney and Dora the Explorer, falling off of swing sets, and dragging my parents to weekend soccer games. More importantly, however, I have been thinking about yours.

Your lives are much different than mine was at your age. Screen time is much higher. I admit I spent a good chunk of my childhood watching television, but it was different. Before Netflix, I would plan my day around when my favorite shows would be airing. If I missed a show, that would be that. Now boredom is a thing of the past. Why read books when you can binge watch your favorite show?

But reading books is so important. Kids of the future, please read everything you can get your hands on. Read every book in the Nancy Drew series like I did or find out more about astronomy. And no, the books you read for school don't count. Books help you train your imagination. They will increase your attention span.

Speaking of attention spans, if you can't talk to someone for five minutes without checking your phone, you have a problem. Social media is addicting. It can be a useful tool, but remember that it is a limited perspective of your friends' lives. It shows the highlights, not the full story. Stop comparing your lives to others. Put your phone down and think about the present.

It's also very easy in this new digital age to forget that, as the Hannah Montana song goes, nobody's perfect. Behind the likes and worshipping comments of an Instagram post may be an insecure girl with body image issues. Post something on social media and don't check to see how people receive it. Post a picture for yourself.

While you're feeling brave, go outside. It's nice out there. Look at something other than your white bedroom walls. I'm not telling you to go hiking every day. However, a stroll through the park wouldn't hurt every now and then. Smell the flowers and all that jazz.

Looking at your smartphones can be a great escape from reality. I get it. It's fun to immerse yourself in Kim Kardashian's life rather than ruminate on your problems. But balance is key. Know your boundaries.

I am worried that Netflix clubs will replace book clubs. I am worried that you will scroll through Twitter at the dinner table instead of talk to your family. I am worried that you will think you aren't as pretty as someone else because you receive less likes on your Instagram posts.

Please follow my advice. The best childhood is the one you've experienced with your own two eyes, not wandering to the buzzing of your phone, but to the experiences in front of you.

Sincerely,
Jamie

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