“We Have Ruined Childhood” and Possible Link to Depression, Anxiety and Suicide

A recent NY Times commentary (We Have Ruined Childhood) details the rising rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide and suggests a link between these mental health issues and a lack of childhood free play.

An excerpt:

No longer able to rely on communal structures for child care or allow children time alone, parents who need to work are forced to warehouse their youngsters for long stretches of time. School days are longer and more regimented…

The role of school stress in mental distress is backed up by data on the timing of child suicide. “The suicide rate for children is twice what it is for children during months when school is in session than when it’s not in session,..

For many children, when the school day is over, it hardly matters; the hours outside school are more like school than ever…

The areas where children once congregated for unstructured, unsupervised play are now often off limits. And so those who can afford it drive their children from one structured activity to another. Those who can’t keep them inside. Free play and childhood independence have become relics, insurance risks, at times criminal offenses

Many parents and pediatricians speculate about the role that screen time and social media might play in this social deficit. But it’s important to acknowledge that simply taking away or limiting screens is not enough. Children turn to screens because opportunities for real-life human interaction have vanished.

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