By Maggie Squyer

In today’s world, it is easy to judge little kids running around with iPads. We cringe at the sight of children playing on smart devices AT the dinner table and always complain about how kids don’t know how to unplug. But, is it entirely their fault? Perhaps they just don’t know any better.

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I was 15 when the iPad was released, and just three years before that the iPhone made its way into the world. Children born after 2010 (generation Alpha) never had the chance to live in a world without smart technology. Those of us who grew up without Apple products, virtual reality, or impressively graphic video games, are (I believe) actually very lucky. I say this because we got to experience what it was like to play in the great outdoors without the distraction of any portable devices. For me, playing outside usually meant taking a trip to my favorite place in Sioux Falls: McKennan Park.

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McKennan Park was founded in 1908 and became a second home to me roughly 85 years later. I spent ALL my spare time here as a kid chasing my siblings around the playground, splashing in the kiddie pool, and enjoying free shows every Monday night at the band shelter. The park back then, and continues to be, the perfect place for kids to grow up.

One of the most vivid memories from my childhood was me losing my shoes at McKennan Park. I was playing in the sand, next to the swing set, and I decided to burry my shoes REALLY deep into the ground. After my failed attempt to unearth the sandals, I had to walk home barefoot and explain to my mom how I lost my shoes.

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The park has had a lasting impact on my life. Now that I’m older, I take my nieces and nephews to McKennan every time I babysit. It was at the park that I mastered how to tie my shoes, fly a kite, and learned how to ice skate. So to all the kids out there reading this article on your phone: put it down! Go enjoy the park!

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