Teresa Hanafin, a columnist for the Boston Globe, covered a report that talked about the increased anxiety resident in children today. The report believes it’s because of a fundamental shift in the way we view child-rearing, in which “the work of raising children, once seen as socially necessary labor benefiting the common good, is an isolated endeavor for all but the most well-off parents.” Parents who have to work are forced to “warehouse” their kids most of the day, and the pressure for success is paramount:
“School days are longer and more regimented. Kindergarten, which used to be focused on play, is now an academic training ground for the first grade. Young children are assigned homework even though numerous studies have found it harmful. STEM, standardized testing, and active-shooter drills have largely replaced recess, leisurely lunches, art, and music.” The kids’ resultant mental distress is overwhelming and dangerous.
It is true that children need lots of unscheduled time with parents and family, other children and even alone time. The brain is not a computer; it is a bag of highly sophisticated chemicals and special cells. Just because society has continued to accelerate daily life since the early 1900s and looks forward to even more automatic features in future society, that doesn’t mean the brain physically modifies its learning requirements to match social acceleration. It is what it is and while it is learning and developing in young people (including teenagers), parents and society in general need to support not only data learning but must also personally invest time with children to develop their social and emotional skills and to allow time for the playground.
People have learned how important it is to their pet dogs when they take them to a dog park. We can do no less for children.