Freedom to play

by on 30 June, 2012

A good piece by the CIS's Sara Hudson on the decline of children playing and the rise of the state:

Curtin University research claims that in just one generation, outdoor play has decreased from 73% to just 13% of total play time. Such are the time limits on children today that some parents are structuring in time for unstructured play! […]

One reason for this is over-anxious parents who worry that if they let their children out of sight, some calamity will befall the kids. This obsession with safety is permeating all aspects of Australian society. A recent article in Crikey suggests that some people actually like Australia’s ‘nanny state’:

When I get back to Australia and I’m not allowed to throw a Frisbee at the beach and I have to get a special council permit just to mind my own business … I’ll say a prayer of thanks to Nanny, and enjoy the freedom – that’s right, haters, freedom – of feeling safe and protected.

Australia is fostering a risk-averse culture where people are reluctant to put themselves or their children ‘at risk’. What is deemed risky has become more tightly defined – so the independence granted to children in the past is now viewed as parental negligence. For example, children using a public toilet without an accompanying adult, walking to school by themselves, or simply crossing the street unaided.

We couldn't agree more with the conclusion:

It is time to take a stand against the paranoia gripping parents and remind them that although the worst-case scenario might happen one day, most of the time it doesn’t. Meanwhile, their children are losing out on developing valuable skills such as resilience, imagination and independence that come with unstructured play.

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