Via Aeon Magazine, psychologist and researcher Peter Gray writes that children’s free time to play is an essential form of learning which is now being denied them:
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For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play. By about 1900, the need for child labour had declined, so children had a good deal of free time. But then, beginning around 1960, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework. Parents’ fears led them, ever more, to forbid children from going out to play with other kids unsupervised.
Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing. It’s not just that we’re seeing disorders that we overlooked before.