Why Play Is Essential For Children: Psychologist Peter Gray Sounds the Alarm About Excessive Adult Oversight & What It’s Doing to Kids’ Mental Health

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Research psychologist Peter Gray discusses the decline of free, unstructured play in children and its impact on mental health. Gray argues that the decrease in children’s independent play since the 1960s has led to marked declines in resilience, increased anxiety, and depression. He challenges the notion that smartphones and social media are the main cause of these issues, instead attributing them to the limitations imposed by adults on children’s independence. Gray advocates for fostering more independence and resilience in children through initiatives such as play clubs and increasing opportunities for unstructured play in communities and schools.

Let the Children Play: For the Learning, Well-Being, and Life Success of Every Child
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sahlberg, Pasi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 10/22/2020 (Publication Date) – OUP Oxford (Publisher)

Key Takeaways

  • Free, unstructured play is essential for children’s mental health and development. It helps them acquire life skills, make friends, and solve problems independently.
  • The decline of children’s opportunities for independent play since the 1960s has corresponded with an increase in anxiety, depression, and suicide among children and adolescents.
  • The modern era has seen a shift towards overscheduled, adult-supervised activities for children, leading to less time for unstructured play, reduced recess and lunch periods at school, and an emphasis on academic performance over holistic development.

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