Feature

The great playtime debate

As summer break ends, the annual argument starts on how much time kids should spend time goofing off

As the summer vacation draws to an end, playtime shouldn’t too, said Stuart Brown in The New York Times. The summer isn’t a complete break for children from their “over-organized, cell-phone-computer-TV-and-video-game-saturated lives,” but it does give them more of the unstructured “goof-off time” that research shows is vital for developing into healthy, well-adjusted, intelligent adults.

“Scolds” have been “mourning the loss of play and leisure time” since at least 1939, said Laura Vanderkan in The Wall Street Journal. But the dreaded “overscheduled child” syndrome decried each September isn’t backed up by the evidence. When kids don’t have structured activities, they don’t engage in “the high-quality unstructured play that pundits praise”—they watch TV and eat junk food. We’d be better off if more kids were “happy and busy.”

There are “scolds” on both sides of the debate, said Anne Wallace Allen in The Canadian Press, via Google News. And “I don’t know which side is right. But the kids I know seem happier when we just leave them alone to play"—which is, more often than not, what the experts recommend. As an added bonus, when kids have time to play by themselves, “their parents get a lot more stuff done.”

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