London: Experts have warned that pushy parents who do not let their children play freely are doing more harm than good, as it can increase the risk of depression in kids and may even lead to suicide.
Overprotective mothers and fathers – branded “hovering helicopters” by researchers – prevent their children from playing outside, where they might build dens, climb trees or explore the countryside.
The American Journal of Play asked a group of experts to investigate the near-extinction of free play and its effects on children and society.
The experts said that without free outdoor play, children are prone to obesity, poor physical health and are unable to develop social skills.
“Over the last 50 years opportunities for children to play freely have declined dramatically in the United States and other developed nations,” the Daily Express quoted Peter Gray, professor of psychology at Boston College, as saying.
“That decline continues, with serious negative consequences for children’s physical, mental, and social development,” added Gray.
Calling for the restoration of free play, Gray said there was a clear correlation between its decline and the rise of depression, suicide and narcissism among children.
Lenore Skenazy, author of a book called ‘Free-Range Kids’, blamed protective parents, organised sports and fears about “stranger danger”, as well as computer games and social media for the decline of free play.