"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.