Hovering helicopter parents who restrict their kids' unstructured play may actually harm, rather than help, children, a distinguished group of experts has cautioned.
The experts also highlighted the near-extinction of free play in developed nations and its effects on children and society.
"Remarkably, over the last 50 years, opportunities for children to play freely have declined continuously and dramatically in the United States and other developed nations; and that decline continues, with serious negative consequences for children's physical, mental, and social development," said Peter Gray, a research professor of psychology at Boston College.
Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children, and Hara Estroff Marano, former Psychology Today editor in chief, accuse over-protective parents, over-organized sports, overblown media hype about stranger danger, and the allure of electronic games and social media for the decrease of free play among today's children.
Without free outdoor play, they say, kids are prone to obesity, poor physical health, and an inability to develop social skills.
Peter LaFreniere, Professor of Psychology at the University of Maine, asserted that evolved patterns of play help children develop strong bones and muscles, promote cardiovascular fitness, and help hone skills of communication, perspective taking, and emotion regulation.
Their reviews are published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Play.