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Decline in play and the rise of psycopatholoy in children and adolescents

Peter Gray, Research Professor of Psychology at Boston College, in an article for the American Journal of Play documents how '...over the last 50 years, opportunities for children to play freely have declined continuously and dramatically in the United States and other developed nations; and that decline continues, with serious negative consequences for children’s physical, mental, and social development.'

His key concern is that as free play has declined over the last fifty years there has been a measurable decline in the mental well-being of children and adolescents. He quotes research which shows '...that anxiety, depression and feelings of helplessness and narcissism have increased in young people in a linear manner that seems to mirror the decline in play' He concedes that correlation does not mean causation but the statistics on rates of suicide in young peope under fifteen in America are rising at a worrying rate and are a sobering index of the decline in young people's mental health. 

In his article he outlines how play promotes children's mental health and how the social aspects of play help to prevent social isolation. 

Read the full atricle here 


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