A coworker of mine has criticized me for not providing enough enrichment to my children. My offense? I don't have cable, and haven't bought 7-year old SuperBoy a Nintendo DS. Supposedly, this is going to lead him to being uninformed, unpopular with the other kids, and ignorant of technology. Also, I didn't take my kids to see Shrek 3.
I must admit I'm mystified by the attitudes of some parents. I've known parents who allowed their infants and toddlers to watch hours and hours of consecutive television purely because it kept them quiet. I've also known children, from toddlers to teens, who didn't eat vegetables. The parent's excuse would be something like "They just don't like them." Some of these children take years to learn to speak properly, don't develop physically, or have other problems.
My wife spent months before our first son's birth reading as many books on parenting as possible, and we spend a considerable amount of time talking about how we should raise our children. Granted, some of them gave somewhat "fluff" answers for various topics and tended to be skewed towards a certain cultural perspective, but none of them gave advice that would be considered irresponsible. It's also not very hard to find parenting advice. It can only lead me to believe that either these parents never read these books, or never cared to implement any real structure.
Further, it's not as if these people are uneducated. Most are college graduates in professional fields. Somehow, they came to the conclusion that kids should not only be given leisure time, but also significant financial resources and a direction set by marketers. Many of them set some kind of limits, but a significant minority, particularly in households with two working parents, do not.
I know there are kids who are relatively intractable, and I'm the last person to blame parents for everything (at least, after school starts, I'm the last person to blame parents for everything). However, simply because parents aren't always to blame isn't reason to blame them when they are irresponsible. And after having some of the kids in my house for an afternoon, it's clear where fault lies. Not because they behave badly, but because after a little "testing", they often behave quite well.
Incidentally, SuperBoy did get his first significant electronic gadget recently: his grandmother gave him a digital camera. Her motives are partially selfish, as she wants more pictures and is a professional photographer herself (and would like having someone else with a strong interest in photography in the family). He loves it, and figured out almost all the settings the first evening he got it without opening the manual.