Play has a significant impact on mental health and that is not just applicable to children. Yes, we generally associate play with children, but the benefits of play span the age gamut. There is no reason to stop playing as we age, and in fact, research would suggest that there’s all the more reason to continue playing long past our retirements. But for the sake of this article, we will be focusing more on kids, just so you know.
No doubt you are aware of the fact that Barbie houses can be both cheap and fun. In fact, Barbie’s dream house is an iconic children’s toy worthy of further consideration. Kids love the luxurious pink details and multi-room options. They find great pleasure in working elevators and glamorous balconies. But, the real value is found in the social development and fine motor skill improvements garnered by playing with dollhouses. Indeed, play has a significant impact on the health of our children.
Mental Disorders Rising as Play Declines
Statistics show that depression and anxiety have been on the rise for over fifty years. This is particularly true in the lives of young people. In fact, mental disorders are rising as play declines. The estimated number of kids dealing with depression by the time they hit college is astounding and hugely disheartening.
While it would be easy to assume that young people are becoming more and more anxious and depressed due to uncertainties in this vast world, and the realistic dangers we all face, this is simply not the case. Studies on the prevalence of anxiety and depression in young people since 1951 suggest that the economic cycles and other world events do not correlate with the rise.
In fact, kids were less depressed during World War II and the Great Depression than they are now (read this). This suggests it’s all about the way these young people see the world around them, rather than how it actually is. Perception is a serious contributor, or deterrent, to mental health.
Anxiety and depression are well linked to an individual’s sense of control. That loss of control is what contributes to the downward spiral of an adolescent’s sense of emotional and mental wellbeing. When they believe they are in charge of their own fate, they are a good deal more euphoric. And, given all the other developments over the past decades, you would think that young people would have a greater sense of control over their destinies. Yet, the data indicates otherwise.
This may seem odd due to the renunciation of many prejudices, and the increase in personal wealth, over the years. Not to mention the fact that our physicians are better capable of fighting illness and disease. So why then do young people feel even less in control? It is possibly a direct result of the decline in play. Click here for some tips to take back control of your life.
Inhibited Play Disrupts Health
People, parents specifically and society in general, have become far too overprotective. This fear of failure and injury has served to inhibit a child’s ability to explore and enjoy free play. The infrequency of playtime without direct adult supervision is disrupting the mental health of our young people. We are keeping them from learning how to control their lives.
Overprotection is removing an ability to develop self-control and preventing self-discovery. That is what’s increasing their potential for anxiety and depression. It’s time to let kids be kids, let them play, fail, and fall. This is necessary so that they learn to get back up on their own. Learn more.