Are Kids Depressed Because They Don't Just Play Anymore?

Boston College psychologist Peter Gray says a cultural shift in child rearing is having dire consequences.


"School has become an abnormal setting for children," says Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College. "Instead of admitting that, we say the children are abnormal."

Gray, who is the author of the 2016 Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, says that a cultural shift towards a more interventionist approach to child rearing is having dire consequences. "Over the same period of time that there has been a gradual decline in play," he told Reason's Nick Gillespie, "there are well documented, gradual, but ultimately huge increases in a variety of mental disorders in childhood—especially depression and anxiety."

Gray believes that social media is one saving grace. "[Kids] can't get together in the real world…[without] adult supervisors," hes says, "but they can online."

For more on Gray's work, follow his blog at Psychology Today.

Edited by Mark McDaniel. Cameras by Todd Krainin and Jim Epstein. Music by Broke for Free.

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  1. The corpse dangling from a tree out the window behind him is distracting.

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  2. “Boys have always been more rambunctious, less willing to conform, than girls…”

    This is not okay on so many levels.

    1. Well, take it up with the girls.

    2. Even if it’s true!

    3. It’s true. Which is why in school girls perform better. However, what isn’t okay is forcing this on boys and strengthening it in girls. We should be fostering the rebelliousness of boys and girls while downplaying the conformity of girls.

      It isn’t hard. One can bring up a little hell raiser little girl. Schools just empower the conformity in them, thus we have the modern feminist movement and political leans of females.

  3. I’m depressed that John has stopped providing us with hysterical right-wing boilerplate from the lunatic-fringe.
    Come back, John!

    1. Maybe we can trade you for John.

      1. Be careful what you wish for. Tired of taking of your shoes before a flight? John can make you take off your spleen.

  4. Speaking as a parent, neighbors get awfully interested in your kids playing outside. I have had neighbors yell at me because my son and his friend are playing in the middle of the day across the street from their damned house.

    Made calling the cops for a noise complaint late at night all the more pleasant.

    1. must depend on your locality. that kind of thing would get your ass kicked in most places.

      1. The trick is to live in a poorer neighborhood. You know, one where the parents are too busy holding down a job to helicopter over the little treasures. We have hordes of unsupervised children running around – some as young as three.

        1. I think the biggest factor is living in a “retirement” community. Where most of the old folks are bitter and nasty and hate the youth of others.

  5. Not to be too confrontational, but I’m taking the neighbor’s side.

    My kids are 8 and 10 and can, admittedly, terrorize the neighborhood. At the same time, we’re near the High School and I’ve had to run off kids who were loitering, smoking, dealing, swearing, “fighting”, etc. (There’s an seldom-used public works station that butts up to an abandoned railway depot less than a mile away that’s effectively owned by nobody, why would you do that shit less than a 5 min. walk away from the school?)

    Everyone’s goal is not to get the police involved and, interacting with the officers I have, it sounds like they loathe having to deal with that shit too.

    1. Argh, meant for this to be @damikesc!

  6. School was always an abnormal environment for children.

  7. RE: Are Kids Depressed Because They Don’t Just Play Anymore?
    Boston College psychologist Peter Gray says a cultural shift in child rearing is having dire consequences.

    It is for the best children in our beloved socialist slave state are not to play, pretend to be someone else and do things children of yesteryear have done. It is only through the proper political indoctrination at our elementary, middle school and high school re-education camps can The State successfully mold the little people’s little ones into proper slaves to The State. Allowing such freedom as playing and pretending only gives the children false hopes of becoming something our wonderful and beneficent slave masters do not want them to become. Indeed, allowing children to be children only spoils them and leads them down the dangerous path of doubt and questioning of our kind and merciful socialist slave masters who take the time and trouble to enslave us all. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the children, our ruling elitist turds and the collective if children do not behave like children.

  8. Trump is already on it! K-12 headed back to the states, so we don’t have to travel so far to protest the state abuse of the children.
    College snowflakes and speech suppressors are still owned by the feds.

  9. As for his comments on social media:

    So damn true. I am the adult that a lot of kids in the family like so they want me to follow their finstas (fake instagrams aka the instagram where they are their true selves). You learn a lot about kids when you aren’t an adult trying to enforce some unnatural paradigm.

  10. …….

  11. School can be a reason for the depression of Kids. But only school can’t be blamed. There are certain situations, the kids come across, that leads the Kids to go into a depression. In today’s fast generation, parents are busy in their Cell Phones, they don’t have time for their children. They don’t have any information, what their child is doing the whole day, what kind of friends he/she is making. Are they going through any problems. Nobody knows about it. Now-a-days Depression is very common among all. Depression can affect you at any age. Parents should talk to their children, if they are going through any problems try to solve them. If they are going through problems of Depression, Stress, Social Anxiety try to find ways to solve their problems. Problems can be treated by Medication, Consulting a Psychic like [Voyante S?rieuse from Martine Voyance]( and similar, Exercise, antidepressants, Psychological help, etc.

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