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Where are all the children?

depressedchildRemember when you would come home from school and couldn’t wait to finish your homework and go outside and ride your bike, doing tricks off a homemade wood ramp, skateboarding, or going to a friends house to play a game of nurf football in the street, or what about playing catch with your well worn baseball glove? Do you remember begging your Mom to go swimming at the neighbor’s pool, or shooting hoops until dark? Do you remember when kids actually played outside? I do, but, for  the vast majority of families that really never happens anymore.

What has taken over is video games and an increasingly busy lifestyle. Of course, our children are still involved in sports, however, going outside to play with other children their age in the neighborhood has gone the way of the Razor phone. What are the psychological ramifications for these millions of children who no longer play outside and what happens to their view of the world around them?

Certainly this varies, however, I’m treating more adolescents, teenagers, and college students who are presenting with more severe symptoms of depression and anxiety than ever before. The question is why? Well, I find that especially with teenagers and college students there is a sense of the loss of control. Goals are focused on external, meaning those things or possessions that set them apart from others, rather than internal development. There seems to be a poor focus on who they really are, personal insight is very limited leading them to feel quite empty, depressed and filled with anxiety.

Consider this, what playing allowed us to do when we were younger was experiment, explore, and discover who we were. It really was fun, liberating, and exhilarating to be withs friends outside playing. I guess it was our modern day adrenaline rush, our outlet. Now that has shifted dramatically and so has the mental state of our children, and not for the better…

The decline of play