The Decline of Play and Rise of Mental Disorders
In this talk, Dr. Peter Gray compelling brings attention to the reality that over the past 60 years in the United States there has been a gradual but, overall dramatic decline in children’s freedom to play with other children, without adult direction. Over this same period, there has been a gradual but, overall, dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents. Based on his own and others’ research, Dr. Gray documents why free play is essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development and outlines steps through which we can bring free play back to children’s lives.
About Peter Gray
Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology, and education. He is author of an internationally acclaimed introductory psychology textbook (Psychology, Worth Publishers, now in its 6th edition), which views all of psychology from an evolutionary perspective. His recent research focuses on the role of play in human evolution and how children educate themselves, through play and exploration, when they are free to do so. He has expanded on these ideas in his recent book, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (Basic Books, 2013). He also authors a regular blog called Freedom to Learn, for Psychology Today magazine. His own current play life includes not only his research and writing, but also long-distance bicycling, backwoods skiing, pond skating, kayaking, and backyard vegetable gardening.