Lack of opportunity for independence may be causing children's decline in mental health - Politics | PoFo

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It's well known that the mental health of children and teens seems to be deteriorating over time.

Some researchers in the U.S. have a theory.

"Our thesis is that a primary cause of the rise in mental disorders is a decline over decades in opportunities for children and teens to play, roam, and engage in other activities independent of direct oversight and control by adults."

They point out how society and culture has changed. It is less common for children to be sent off alone without direct supervision by an adult. It is less common for children to have independent responsibilities.

Even the structure of places where people live have changed. Suburbs built in modern times are much less walkable, it is more difficult for children to be able to go anywhere without an adult to drive them. There is less open space, and less open space nearby within walking distance from homes.

Arguably society has become a more dangerous place, and it is not safe for children to go off alone. Parents are much more likely to face legal consequences for not supervising their children.

In many areas there are fewer job opportunities available to children and teens than there once were, as a result of high amounts of foreign immigration.

Then many children are under intense academic pressures, with fears that even a modest middle class life may be out of reach to them if they are not able to make it through college.

The authors pointed out a survey in European countries that focused on how much independent mobility kids were given, which asked individuals "Can children walk home from school alone?" It showed independent mobility declined over the period 1990 to 2010.

Decline in Independent Activity as a Cause of Decline in Children’s Mental Well-being: Summary of the Evidence, Peter Gray, Journal of Pediatrics, published February 23, 2023

related thread: The youngest generation is unhappier than previous generations (13 Feb 2024 in North America)
Puffer Fish, as a senior (and olde) member of this forum, I have witnessed the deterioration of childhood in my lifetime by speaking at lenght to grandparents, and then teaching adolescents in my adult life.

What has emerged, in my mind, is that the process of animal-husbandry is a slow one in which the natural instincts and behaviors of children... have been slowly removed, generation after generation.

While my grandparents generation had certain life-skills that were mostly gender-based, by now, neither gender has many skills at all. While women weren't really permitted to talk politics a few generations ago, almost all men had something to say about it. Today, neither men nor women are permitted to have their own opinions, or to "do their own research." Thinking independently is frowned upon today.

And children REQUIRE freedom to physically roam (on dangerous car-polluted streets) as well as the freedom to roam psychologically (in a mass-media fed diet of structured thoughts, this cannot happen anymore).
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