I'm more worried about the mental inactivity of kids these days. Uncle Google provides the answers to all homework assignments. And why read a book when you have Youtube, Netflix, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and DIscord. And with all the social media, where is the time to just lay in the grass, stare at the clouds and let your imagination run wild?
You have to learn to daydream, use your fantasy, imagine what could be. How else are you going to improve the world when you grow up? I think Terry Pratchett explained it best in his "Hogfather" novel. There are two related quotes:
Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
and this short passage:
“WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED IF YOU HADN'T SAVED HIM?
"Yes! The sun would have risen just the same, yes?"
"Oh, come on. You can't expect me to believe that. It's an astronomical fact."
THE SUN WOULD NOT HAVE RISEN.
"Really? Then what would have happened, pray?"
A MERE BALL OF FLAMING GAS WOULD HAVE ILLUMINATED THE WORLD.”
Or, as the late Sir Terry put it: "You need to believe in things that aren't true, how else can they become?"
Take all the maths and boolean logic away, and that is what is really at the core of creating software. You let your mind run wild, imagine how the future is all a bit brighter if only there was a program that would do so-and-so. You fantasize how the data would flow from A to B, you dream of an interface that is so much easier to use. Then, and only then, you are ready to sit down at your desk and write the thing. And you know what you have to do, because in your fantasy you have already seen the result. By the sheer power of imagination, you just created your own personal predestination paradox, a causal loop in which the present present is shaped by the future through this magical box on your desk that allows you to chance the world.
But without fantasy, without imagination, without actively spending time to learn to daydream, what is there really? This thing on your desk is nothing but wires and lights in a box. It's just an instrument to temporarily dull the eternal boredom and the futility of everyday existence.
In my opinion, this is what we are really taking away from kids these days. It's not the "running around in the woods", it's the idea that you go into the woods, declare yourself the ruler of it and imagining how you could build your own castle from scraps to rule over your new kingdom, just for an afternoon. It's the idea that, today, a dragon is hiding deep in the forest, and you have to defeat it to save your sister, the princess. It's the dream of, one day, stumbling upon the gingerbread house, finding the buried treasure and climbing that beanstalk. Or daydreaming of being an astronaut, building the world's tallest skyscraper or driving the fastest race car.
Edit: posted a longer version of this reply on my blog (mostly, because i have a fancier editor that makes it somewhat easier to write stuff): https://cavac.at/guest/blog/view/120
perl -e 'use Crypt::Digest::SHA256 qw[sha256_hex]; print substr(sha256_hex("the Answer To Life, The Universe And Everything"), 6, 2), "\n";'