Why are children unhappier today than in the past? And why are today’s teens at least five times as likely to be clinically depressed as teens of 50 years ago? In this sobering article for Psychology Today, a research psychologist argues that children are being deprived of the opportunity to play on their own and take responsibility for themselves. Peter Gray is a professor at Boston College who specializes in the role of play in child development. He blames “coercive schooling” and the rise of additional adult-directed activities for taking away children’s sense of autonomy and self-ownership. Gray says this leads to anxiety and depression. I went through a very traditional system of schooling, but today’s children have even less control of their time than I did. Parents who think they are helping their children by controlling their time and giving them so many well-meaning activities are hurting them instead.
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