|Secret Service protection helps to minimize the risks of outdoor play.|
|One of the two surveillance watchtowers at the Worldwide Day of Play.|
Second, American kids know how to navigate their parents through a shopping mall, but few know how to play. They spend their free time sitting in front of a TV watching Nickelodeon, learning what they need to be happy from the commercials. That's what American children do. On those rare occasions when schools or parents tell children to go outside, the kids don't have the faintest clue what to do. Put an American child in a park and he will just sit there holding his Game Boy.
|Until we invaded, these children lacked access to Nickelodeon.|
Nickelodeon addressed parental paranoia -- the conviction held by American parents that outdoor play is too risky. The cartoon network thought to situate an outdoor play area on the world's most secure park. What venue offers greater safety than the Ellipse on the National Mall? It's essentially an extension of the front lawn of the White House. With the Secret Service handling security, it stood to reason that even the most anxious American parents would green-light a few hours of outdoor play on the Ellipse.
The Viacom subsidiary also addressed the "clueless about how to play" problem. The solution was to get groups to sponsor organized "Day of Play" activities. We were impressed that Nickelodeon picked one sponsor that enthusiastically promotes the vocabulary of the national security state.
|List of "Worldwide Day of Play" sponsors and activities.|
|#24 "Preschool Activities."|
If play is to have a future, it must not only encourage the consumption of goods and services, it should teach children what it means to be an American patriot in the Twenty-First Century.