I saw a news article last week that included some statistics I found surprising and disappointing.
No, not the one about fake news, though I suppose my reaction to that was along the same lines.
That one said half of U.S. adults consider fake news a major problem, and I took it as good news that they mostly blame politicians and activists for it, according to a new survey.
I’m glad people are figuring out the challenge we journalists are up against.
My enthusiasm waned when I saw that the survey also showed that a majority of people believe journalists have the responsibility for fixing it. Further, some people — mainly Republicans — think journalists are actually to blame for the problem. That’s where the disappointment comes in.
Anyway, the other article that caught my attention was on another topic entirely: Bicycling.
A story in the Washington Post delivered some news that had not occurred to me before but made total sense when I read it. Kids aren’t riding bikes like they used to.
The story found that manufacturers and retailers of children’s bikes say their market research indicates that the number of kids who bike regularly has dropped dramatically.
Kids age 6 to 17 who rode their bikes more than 25 times a year decreased by more than a million from 2014 to 2018, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Bike sales show a similar pattern, dropping 7.5% this year over last year.
Excuse me while I get a little nostalgic for my 1970s childhood. When I was a kid, Mom said, “Go out and play,” and we did — from morning until night in the summer. And usually that meant hopping on a Sting-Ray with a banana seat bike and a sissy bar. (Can we still say sissy bar?)
We rode all over — to the pool, to the park, to the tennis courts, to see friends. And sometimes just to ride, blasting down a Dubuque hill with the wind whipping your hair — on paved streets and through wooded areas (pre-mountain bike).
And it wasn’t just me. Practically everybody grew up like that in the ’70s.
Now, it seems, kids just aren’t riding bikes as much. You can guess why. Screens — television, video games, phones. Kids 8 to 18 are spending an average of seven hours a day looking at screens, according to the American Heart Association.
Seven hours. At seven days a week, that’s more than a full-time job.
We parents need to have conversations with kids and get them back on their bikes and outdoors in general. Today, bike trails crisscross the tri-state area, so biking is easier and safer than ever. I don’t think kids have changed so much that they wouldn’t enjoy a good bike ride.
Let’s give kids a nudge toward the door, the way our parents did. Snapchat and Instagram will still be there when they get back.
And that, I can promise you, is not fake news.