Rates of depression and anxiety among young people – children as well as adolescents – have been increasing steadily over the past few decades, in America, the UK and other parts of the western world. According to psychologist, Peter Gray, this is not linked to what is going on in the world – dangers, uncertainties, the economy, war. “The changes seem to have much more to do with the way young people view the world than with the way the world actually is.” They are linked to a feeling of lack of personal control over outcomes.
Even more significantly, “children’s freedom to play and explore on their own, independent of direct adult guidance and direction, has declined greatly in recent decades. Free play and exploration are, historically, the means by which children learn to solve their own problems, control their own lives, develop their own interests, and become competent in pursuit of their own interests.”