Play Time Down, Anxiety Up. Hmm.

From “Let the Kids take Risks When They Play,” by Peter Gray (one of my heroes, author of the basic psych textbook used in colleges across the country, as well as the book Free to Learn) in The Boston Globe: 

…Over the past 60 years, we’ve seen a huge decline in children’s freedom and opportunity to play on their own. Over this same period, we’ve also seen a dramatic increase in the rates of depression and anxiety disorders among young people — five to eight times what they were in the 1950s, based on standard clinical questionnaires given to normative groups over the decades.

Our children — and the young of other mammals — love to play in moderately risky ways. Through such play, they acquire the physical, social, and emotional capacities required for healthy development. They learn to get along with one another by playing socially, and they learn to deal with emergencies by playing in ways that entail risk. For example, young monkeys playfully swing from branch to branch, high enough up that a fall would hurt; goat kids run along cliffs and leap awkwardly into the air, so that landing is difficult. Young mammals of many species playfully fight and chase one another, and they occasionally get hurt in the process.

Why is such play so attractive? It can cause injury, so why hasn’t natural selection weeded out the innate desire for it?

We have some clues from laboratory experiments. Researchers have found that when young rats or monkeys are deprived of play during critical periods in their development, the animals grow up as emotional cripples. They are psychologically paralyzed when placed in novel, slightly frightening environments to which normally raised animals would adapt. They alternate between incapacitating fear and inappropriate aggression when placed with unfamiliar peers. So it is no surprise to me that play-deprived human children grow up lacking the social and emotional skills required to deal well with life’s inevitable stressors. They may also grow up deficient in the abilities to think creatively, take initiative, and assume responsibility.

We have deprived children of free, venturesome play, presumably for their own good, but in the process we have denied them the opportunity to learn how to be resilient by playing in risky, emotion-inducing ways.

All animals play. Only humans deprive their kids of this.

All animals play. Only humans deprive their kids of this.

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61 Responses to Play Time Down, Anxiety Up. Hmm.

  1. Andrew June 24, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Because play is so old fashioned. We modern humans know more than nature when it comes to teaching and raising our children.

  2. Donald June 24, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    I agree with Andrew

    In this modern day, we have experts that know what’s best. I’ll bet mother nature doesn’t have a PHd in anything.

  3. Tamara June 24, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    I wonder if it isn’t that as parents we tend to set up our lives with as much “productivity” as possible. Play is seen as unnecessary and even laziness. And of course our children must become little cloned us-es or we haven’t been successful as parents.

  4. Cynthia June 24, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    I love your blog Lenore, thanks for keeping up with it. I agree completely with the post above, kids need to be able to be able to take risks – physical and mental – in order to grow into adults who will also be able to take risks when necessary in their life – whether it be work related or in their private lives. There is something very rewarding when your 8 year old is 30 feet up in a tree that he climbed entirely on their own. Does it frighten this mom a bit, certainly, but that is my problem not his. For my kids this sort of play really gives them a lot of confidence and “can do” attitude.

  5. marie June 24, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    We may have gotten to the point now where new parents were raised in ultra-safe conditions so that when they hear that play is good for children, they will sign up their kids for soccer or dance lessons instead of just sending them to the park. We might be in danger of losing the understanding of what play used to be, of what freedom used to mean.

  6. Cynthia June 24, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Some of us parents out here still allow our children this kind of play that is free of direct parental oversight. We allow our children much of the same freedom and independence that both my husband and I grew up with in the 60’s and 70’s.

  7. Warren June 24, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    This reminds me of a Star Trek the Next Generation Movie.

    Cmdr. Data, an android, befriends a young boy on a planet. At the end of the movie, as the crew is about to leave, Data is in a pile of hay playing with the boy. Just before they leave the boy makes Data promise to find time in everyday to just PLAY.

    Even Gene Rodenberry, though into science fiction, some say had a great vision of what our future would and should be like, as far as social issues, even he knew the benefits of PLAY.

  8. lollipoplover June 24, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    But Mother Nature is proven to be more beneficial than structured “enriching” activities:

    http://m.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/06/for-better-school-results-clear-the-schedule-and-let-kids-play/373144/

  9. K June 24, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I think supervision guidelines are a big part of this. Mothers can relax and/or do housework inside while pulling up a chair outside to watch a 7 year-old seems uncomfortable (both physically and emotionally – like hovering), but not supervising could get the person into a lot of trouble if the child gets hurt or anykthing unexpected happens. CPS takes a lot of kids… We should not underestimate them. Maybe everyone isn’t specifically familiar with these laws/guidelines, but most people now have kids all booked up with camps and extracurriculars. Driving to friends houses is also an extra effort on the part of parents. Parents will drive for the swim team, but not just to play Monopoly. Social skills are at the heart of everything we do, including success at a future job. We don’t do anything specific for it except teach kids to share in the preschool year. I think that the supervision guidelines err on the side of the kid being a little on the old side before they can play outside on their own. By the time the kids are 8 or 9 the family has alreadiy gotten involved in the extracurriculars and gotten into habits that probably aren’t as good as playing unsupervised outside. I think kids need the play time for multiple reasons. One obvious one is to not get fat at an early age.

  10. Gina June 24, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    This is exactly why I stopped teaching. I couldn’t stand the need (required by licensing) to help every child in every situation so that nobody got hurt. How stupid! Kids fall, get hurt and learn to cope.
    The rule at our home has always been, if you can climb it, you can get on top of it. If you need help, you aren’t ready.

  11. Reziac June 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    In my junior high back in the 1960s, one of the marks of passage in gym class was climbing the knotted rope all the way to the gymnasium roof — about 40 feet. (With nothing but a layer of gym pads between you and the hardwood floor so far below.) No one was ever hurt. No one ever fell… probably because as kids raised with risk, none of us ever went beyond our own judgment as to what was an excessive risk. We had exercised that judgment via the small risks we took every day, just in ordinary play.

    And what was the key to making it all the way to the top of the rope? Don’t look down. Focus on the goal, not on the risk. Respect the risk, but don’t dwell on it to the point that you can’t see beyond it.

  12. Dirk June 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Supervision. It exists because of the perception that things are different today. This is because of a bunch of reasons. And it is different in different geographic locations for a bunch of reasons. Suburbia often doesn’t have the social spaces for kids (although sometimes they do but only in a limited way such as a school, or a playground, or a field but just one!) meaning that kids can’t really “go” anywhere on their own. Media scares the world with the if it bleeds it leads policy (stranger danger hype that you all hate). Business has sold the idea of danger to you to sell products and make money. Competition between you and others for the best kid at sports and school. And it all snowballs. Until you get to today. It doesn’t matter if you opt out of these things or not (say you live in the city, don’t watch much tv, eschew big business, and are internally motivated) you still live in a world where they are going on. And the world acts as if and will judge and interact with you in that way. It all leads to supervision.

    Isn’t there a middle ground? I see these stories (often one sided I must admit) on this site. Ones about 6 year olds going to the post office on their own, or being left in cars, or what have you. And the trouble this causes the parents. Couldn’t these parents come up with a middle ground solution and avoid the problems while still getting the benefits?

  13. BL June 24, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

    @Dirk
    “Suburbia often doesn’t have the social spaces for kids (although sometimes they do but only in a limited way such as a school, or a playground, or a field but just one!) meaning that kids can’t really “go” anywhere on their own.”

    Not sure how young you mean or what sort of social spaces you have in mind.

    I lived in suburbia up to the age of 9, so I was pretty young (we later moved to a small town).

    We played at the school playground quite a bit. And in ours and other kids’ yards, though the yards weren’t too big – it was a suburb of “starter homes”. I could walk (unsupervised!) to a small shopping plaza where I could buy candy, gum, comic books, things like that. We weren’t directly supervised, at least by the age of 7-8-9, though there were always adults in shouting distance. When we played at the playground (during non-school hours), the school building itself pretty much shielded us from direct sight of our homes.

    So – what were we missing?

  14. K June 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    Middle ground is hard to find. The problem in suburbia isn’t so much that kids can’t go anywhere as that they aren’t allowed to be alone in the street, backyards, etc.. Middle ground is hard to find with limited options to begin with.

  15. lollipoplover June 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    @Dirk- Middle ground does exist.
    My kids love free play but also organized sports. This summer my son signed up for a pick-up baseball league with a bunch of friends. Its at our community field and they have an umpire, but the kids pick teams and coach themselves, no adults. It costs $20 for 8 games, no practices.

    It’s the way sports should be- fun and directed by the kids. They don’t have uniforms or waivers but plenty of sunflower seeds and great baseball stories. The Sandlot is still alive
    this summer!

  16. Warren June 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Things have changed. Back in our day the people in neighborhoods used to think the sounds of kids playing outside, yes yelling, laughing, screaming, and general playing was a good thing.

    Now all these neighborhoods are filled with uptight people that think their neighborhoods should be filled with silence.
    Demonstrated by areas that have had street hockey banned, or any playing in the streets. Places that won’t allow forts to be built, lemonade stands to be run and on and on.

    When they pull out of their driveways, they don’t want to see or hear kids at all.

    My closest neighbor has two small daughters, and they are outside all the time laughing and screaming. He just got transfered and I am going to miss hearing his girls out playing.

  17. nina June 24, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    I’m afraid some people won’t like what I’m about to say, but I’m going to do it anyway because I think it’s important. People complain too much about how things used to be but not anymore. Itthink it’s mostly up to us parents to encourage our kids to have the kind of childhood experiences we used to have and believe to be important. My first 2 kids were born in nyc, when they were 2 and 4 we moved to Baltimore. Now I have 3 and live in ny state deep suburbia. Every time we moved to a new neighborhood my kids got on their bikes and went looking for other kids to play with. Some parents didn’t like it when they rang their door bell, but most did. And in a matter of a few months free range neighborhoods were created. Happened every single time. And as for a scary boogie man of a cps, it doesn’t really happen all that much. When my kids tripped our security alarm and police showed up and we weren’t home

  18. nina June 24, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    They didn’t take my children away, they told them to stay safe and behave. When my neighbor noticed my 3 yo playing in the driveway, she did not call 911, she rang my door bell to ask me if I knew. I did and we had a nice conversation. So we should stop complaining and start doing what we preach.

  19. CrazyCatLady June 24, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    The link between anxiety and helicoptering is certainly there. Yesterday I was at the park with a bunch of other families. One family had the mom, 14 year old son with a life threatening disease, a 12 year old daughter with learning differences and anxiety and a 3 year old boy. The mom CONSTANTLY had to tell the daughter that she did NOT have to watch the littlest. That he was allowed to do things without the big sister, mother or brother looking at him every second.

    My heart goes out to this mom. She faces a lot every day with her oldest, and now she is also faced with breaking her daughter of being a helicopter parent even before she is a parent. I understand the fears of the daughter, and I know she does not yet have the maturity needed to understand where her mother is coming from.

  20. CrazyCatLady June 24, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    And when I say I was at the park…it wasn’t so we adults could watch our kids, the adults were mostly there to chat with each other. As a bunch of homeschooling parents, we need to get out and socialize more than our kids do.

  21. E June 24, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    I think the idea applies to adults too. Without “downtime” from work and entertainment and technology, your brain doesn’t have time to just think in random ways.

    We’ve come to realize that walking the dog and hiking gives us the best kind of “downtime”. No tvs, not iPads, no phone, allows your mind to wander and reflect or talk about things in a very organic manner.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind flopping on the coach in front of the TV (I have grown kids) but I also know that I get a lot out of walking/running/hiking. And it’s great for long discussions (with NO interruptions) for couples too.

  22. SOA June 24, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    Play is super important to kids. I am sad that many parents keep their kids indoors all the time and at structured activities 24/7. Kids don’t get to just BE and play as much anymore. We only do one recreational activity at a time to give us plenty of free play time. Teachers give too much homework and if need be, I will just straight up tell my kids to not do it so they have time to play after school.

    My kids spent the last 24 hours just playing going up and down a bunk bed with their friends at a hotel suite. They thought that bunk bed was the best thing ever. Kids are naturally geared to play. That bunk bed was more fun to them than probably anything we could have paid to go down while we were in the tourist area. Then they just played in the pool the rest of the time. So besides the hotel room that was a free vacation.

    Parents need to make sure to work in free play to their child’s schedule because that is just as important as homework or little league.

  23. Havva June 24, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    Someone should do a study comparing the depression/anxiety rates, and teen suicide rates between areas with CPS guidelines that permit 8 year olds to be unsupervised for a time, and areas that don’t allow any independence to the age of 12.

    That should probably include some comparative stats on violence against children to show that the choice isn’t between depressed and dead.

  24. lollipoplover June 24, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Much anxiety in helicoptered children comes from never feeling competent or capable. When everything is closely monitored and supervised by mom or approved caregivers, children don’t learn to rely on themselves and one another and develop the very basic capabilities in life. The focus is always on what could go wrong as the reason for the lack of trust. Free range parenting focuses on what could go right.

    Children are remarkably capable of entertaining themselves for hours without constant adult attention. I can usually locate where all of mine are in our neighborhood with the bikes piled up in neighborhood driveways. Kids find each other and ways to play easily. Adults just manage to try to control things for our own anxiety issues.

    All of my kids are outside now…someone knocked on the door to organize a manhunt game and I am enjoying a well-deserved adult cocktail after spending the day at the pool observing bratty kids galore (not mine- they had to be dragged out of the water to go home for dinner). “Mom, I need my goggles” and mom rushes to get them for him, even though they are on the blanket and all he needed to do was walk 10 more feet off the pool deck. Some kids are allowed to rule the family. They are so used to getting their way and being chauffered like royalty to expensive enrichment activity or sports camp that they never develop the independence and experience that wards off anxiety.

    Free play also develops a remarkable skill for life- finding what activities you actually ENJOY. So much of the focus for kids is what they are good at but what do they like playing? Some children prefer small groups of friends and quiet activities while others act like little mayors trying to organize groups of kids into sports games. Giving them freedom to explore the basics of what they enjoy doing when it isn’t scheduled down to every hour of the day with Kumon and Camp Supervision seems so obvious.

  25. hineata June 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    @Lollipoplover – hope you enjoy that well-deserved cocktail! Laughed at your comment about Goggle Boy. It does seem like, as we say here at times, some mums have far too much invested in their kids, and being a ‘good parent’ is dependent on how much you do for them. My mum’s favourite comment, by contrast, when we asked her to do something we were perfectly capable of, was

    “What did your last black boy die of?”

    Terribly non-PC by current standards, but mums shouldn’t be slaves to their kids!

    Me, I had to go back to study after Midge stopped being sick so often – I was going mad with boredom at home and might have become a slave mum….to the detriment of the children.

  26. lollipoplover June 25, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    @hineata- Ha! I think I would have liked your mum. I find myself mumbling “Don’t do it, don’t do it mom” under my breath when witnessing the antics of some of these *high maintenance* kids. I generally ban them from our house because they are annoying and exhausting with their never ending demands. I don’t know why no one says no to these kids or explains to them the self-sufficient way of meeting needs without involving adults. My kids avoid me unless absolutely necessary!

    On a positive note, there is a 14 yo at our pool who is babysitting his siblings this summer. I honestly didn’t think he could manage them all day (they are energetic boys) but these boys are better behaved than most of the kids at the pool with parents and hired babysitters. The 14 yo walks there with them and brings no food. They swim, play ball, go in the game room, then walk home for lunch and come back in the afternoon. He’s gotten the little one to swim practice on time every day and the boys do as he says. Yet when the mom or dad is here with the boys, they are constantly asking for snacks (she brings a feed bag with every imaginable snack)and are needy and whiny. Strangely, when left on their *own*, these kids are better behaved than when the parents cater to their every need.

  27. E June 25, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I know this is far off the point of this site and this post, but Hineata’s Mom’s comment is not un-PC, it’s horribly racist and has no humor value at all. Ugh. Talk about things not to be said to children.

  28. Dirk June 25, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    @BL

    Like I said, OFTEN suburbs do not have places to go other than a few places, like the ones you named. And it sounds like you had a great time. Not often the case. Often the case is mom (or dad) has to put you in the SUV and drive you to your friends house not only because there are only 5 houses on your cul-de-sac but because there are no sidewalks on most of the mile long trek to the kid closest to your own age. Etc. My own experience crossed being a “city” kid to the burbs and back again (in that when I got a car I again became a city kid!). When in the burbs there was a park, two schools, the library, and the baseball and soccer fields (with some “woods” behind them). Thing was until you were a certain age (ten speed age?) you couldn’t really go anywhere without getting in the car. The suburbs where made during the car age (many of them) and so you need a car to get around sometimes. Also, as the demographics shifted in the 80s there were less kids in the area. So it wasn’t like it was in the 60s and 70s in a lot (not all areas) and “kid density” diminished. Meaning you had to go farther to find kids to play with.

    What I was talking about isn’t/wasn’t universal nor all encompassing. It does exists in many suburban towns though and in conjunction with other stuff lends to the atmosphere of “kids need supervision 100% of the time” that is pervasive.

  29. Dirk June 25, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    @nina

    Awesome. Now that’s what I am talking about. Complaining doesn’t do anything. Teach your kids to explore and explain themselves. Especially how to explain themselves to adults and cops and they will be fine and do great!

  30. Dirk June 25, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    @nina

    Did you notice in your moves what types of towns it was “easier” to be free range in?

  31. BL June 25, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    @Dirk

  32. BL June 25, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    @Dirk

    Not sure why my last comment fizzled. But back to the burbs.

    The suburb I lived in was built in the mid 1950s, certainly well into the “car age”. It had sidewalks. No cul-de-sacs.
    At least then, very very high “kid density”.

  33. Warren June 25, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    See, even in here people expect the kids to GO SOMEWHERE to play. In the burbs we played in the street, on our front lawns. Now people call the police because they had to slow down for playing kids, or the kids are making too much noise.

    Back in our day, the cars that slowed were usually parents coming home from work. Mostly the dads got out of their car, grabbed a hockey stick and joined in for awhile.

    My daughters and I, before moving out of town, would grab the gloves and ball, play catch on the road. We needed more distance than our tiny backyard would allow.

    You don’t have to pack up and go to a park everytime you want to play.

  34. Dirk June 25, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    @ all…

    There is more going on here than at first glance. The geographic spaces, the kid density (you can’t just get a pick up game of hockey going out front in MANY places cause there are only a few kids on a given street if any sometimes), time constraints (parents have kids scheduled), and the media and business created panic that the world is full of certain types of danger.

  35. SOA June 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Warren: not everyone lives in neighborhoods you know. Some people live in apartment complexes with zero yards. Some people live in neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of other kids living there. It might be mostly single couples or older folks and no families with young kids. Some people have no yards or yards that are not good for playing in. Some people live in areas that have extreme heat or cold certain parts of the year that makes outside play not as easy as areas with moderate climates. Try telling someone who lives in the desert to go play outside all day. Or someone who lives in Greenland to play outside all day in the sub zero temps.

    Or some kids don’t get along with the neighbor kids or they are too much older or younger or they are never home. My kids play with the neighbor kids but it is not an everyday or even every week thing. They are often not home for various reasons mostly being the precious sports you love so much or other activities or with family or doing errands.

    I played outside alone a lot as a kid and most of the time it was just me playing by myself as I had no siblings and there were a few families of kids in my neighborhood I played with, but even then they were not always home or free to play.

  36. EricS June 25, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    I’ll take nature’s 200 000 years of proven track record, over some “experts'” PHd, influenced by society, and technology only in the last 15-20 years.

    Don’t fix what isn’t broke. But if you can IMPROVE upon it, great. Unfortunately, when it comes to children, mentality of many people today is several steps backwards in the direction we WERE going in prior to the internet and smartphones.

  37. EricS June 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    @ lollipoplover: That isn’t really middle ground. Kids have been doing that kind of “organization” for decades before this generation. We never needed adults to organize anything for us, we did it on our own. We would go to the park, or an empty school yard (summer time), and just start a game. Any game. Neighbourhood kids would come flocking in and join. Or they would start a pick up game of their own, at another part of the playground or school. Sometimes when we knew we were going to be out for a while, we packed our own lunches (this was the age range of 8-13, just before we started getting into other things, going into our teens).

    In this situation, there really is no middle ground. As long as adults have say in the matter, it will always be THEIR way. And all it takes is ONE adult to be sanctimonious, to ruin it for the rest. And there are plenty of those adults in every community.

    I agree that much of this “anxiety” stems from children having a lot of pressure put on them, by their parents. Be it to be “the best”, or making them feel weak and inadequate because their parents say “no” all the time, and treat them like invalids. The children’s minds are genetically programmed to think like every other kid generations before them, but their parents and society is telling them something completely the opposite. That can be very stressful for developing minds and emotions.

    @ nina: that is the key thing, “…it’s mostly up to us parents to encourage our kids to have the kind of childhood experiences we used to have and believe to be important.” Many parents today don’t encourage. They place fear in their children’s heads instead. Their own fears. They do not understand that what makes THEM feel better, isn’t always what is best for their children.

  38. Warren June 25, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Dolly,
    SHUT THE HECK UP!!!!!!!!!!
    Nothing but excuses.
    I have lived in apartments as a kid, and still had lots of play.
    Extreme heat or extreme cold is nothing more than a wimpy excuse. We have been out playing street hockey in -20C with major windchill to below -30C. We didn’t give a crap.

    Everything else is just excuse upon excuse upon excuse. And it is people like you that only make it worse.

  39. Dirk June 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

    @ EricS Wed Jun 25th 2014 at 1:31 pm
    @ lollipoplover

    My father tells those stories. About how as kids they organized their own football leagues and such. I found it amazing. Amazing because on my street as a kid there was one kid to my left and one kid two houses down on my right growing up. Neither of them was my age, meaning one was two grades up and the other was a few grades down. We never played together ever. A better explanation would be the bus to school. I lived in the suburbs with houses right next to each other. The bus to school would have to go a half mile in either direction before they picked up another student. (The two kids on my street went to a different school because they were not my age.) Get what I am saying? My father had enough kids living within a what? 5 to 10 block radius to make up 4 or 5 football teams of like 10 guys each?

    My dad also tells tale of simply going to one place or another and there would a BUNCH of kids there. That they would be unsupervised too. No matter where I went as a kid in my town (I just looked it up, 2,000 people but it was adjacent to a city too) I probably wouldn’t see more than one or two kids around. There simply weren’t any.

    I don’t blame the geography but it is part of everything. Unlike another poster I don’t blame experts. They are just people too. In fact experts these day talk about the importance of play. Parents compete with each other, and that is how some people sell snake oil to them. There are a lot of parts to this stew though.

    You don’t have to live by their rules though you have to live among them. I also like some think there is a middle ground. You can take your kid to baseball but you don’t have to push them to make the All star team and sign them up for year round leagues etc. At the end of the day this is about kids being responsible for themselves to a degree, or rather us raising them to be so… And at the end of the day I still maintain the best way to do that is give them some, watch what they can do, and let them do that and learn from it…and most of all, because they have to live in the real world teach them to explain themselves to adults and authorities.

    Side track!

    So many stories on this site start out as something like “Parents let 12 year old go to the mall and are arrested.” But what the story leaves out is that the 12 year old brought a 5 year old with them to the mall and left them in the food court for 30 minutes while they tried on clothes. And that once the mall guard pieced it all together she didn’t know what to do… I mean, that 12 year old clearly wasn’t ready for that responsibility and couldn’t explain themselves well enough…some can for sure, but almost all the stories on this site seem good from the title but then fall apart the more you read about them…

  40. lollipoplover June 25, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    @EricS and Dirk-

    Fair enough, times are different and fields aren’t always open for free play all the time with the never ending travel baseball seasons. So this baseball *league* was started by a 15 yo on Instagram. This kid names the time and location and whoever can make it shows up to just play ball. My son is one of the youngest at 13 and at each game they picked teams gym class style. At the first game, my son was picked second to last (he doesn’t know half of these kids). He went 4 for 4 and hit a double (hard to do on the big fields) off of their best pitcher. Second game, he gets moved up and is picked in the middle. All of this- character building. And organizing their own games at young ages without adults- truly priceless, no matter what you say.

  41. SOA June 25, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    Warren: People like me? Umm my kids play every day outside. In the Summer its pool play every day. I have to drive them there since we don’t have a neighborhood pool. They go and play there every day with other kids.

    My kids free play in the house every day. They go out in the yard and play with each other. They have friends over and all play together inside or outside. We meet friends at the park or children’s museum or we just go to those type of places.

    If most parents are like me then damn this country must be in good shape. If all parents take their kids to the zoo, children’s museum, science museum, every playground in town, nature center, aquarium and even road trips to other cities to do the above, then this country has a ton of super awesome parents exposing their kids to a lot of educational and fun stuff.

    The parents that are the problems are the ones that park the kids in front of the tv all day long and never take them outside or arrange chances to socialize and play with other kids. That would not apply to me.

  42. SOA June 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    It just shows how simple minded you are Warren that you don’t realize not everyone lives in a neighborhood brimming with kids.

    My mother lives in the country where you would have to drive at least a mile or most likely further to even get to your closest neighbor. How are those kids supposed to find someone to play with exactly?

    Not everyone lives in areas with tons of kids. I grew up in one that only had 3 families of kids, but I guess I made that up according to you.

  43. Warren June 25, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    Dolly,
    I thought you said you don’t brag. Now twice in as many days you have bragged about how awesome you are.

    Personally I think you are a lying sack of crap.

    And did you ever think that you had to play by yourself because nobody liked you? Because if you were anything like you are now, I can honestly understand everyone keeping away.

    In one post you make all sorts of excuses for not doing things, but in the next post brag your ass off about everything you do. Make up what little mind you have left, take your meds and try to be consistent.

    Hell in the winter we played and still play in well sub zero temps. In the summer we played and still play on days where the humidex has it at over 40C. Only wimps and wusses use weather as an excuse.

  44. SOA June 26, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    I specifically referred to people in the neighborhood. I had friends from school over constantly. They did not live near me though. My kids have friends over a lot too or meet up with friends a lot but again, they don’t live near us. Even now I have no close friends in my neighborhood but I have several that live in town.

    I think its kinda sad that you think you can only be friends with someone that lives in your neighborhood. I used to play with the little boys near my house and they adored me but they were Jewish and their mother had a problem with non Jewish girls coming around them. So they snuck away to play with me a lot. There are vast reasons in the world for things dude.

  45. Warren June 26, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    What you call reasons, I call excuses.

  46. Dirk June 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Here is a post from the pros and cons section of this website (I highly suggest everyone read it…)

    By Nicole Wed Apr 9th 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Congratulations on living in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Manhattan. Of course your son was safe. I live in the Germantown section of Philadelphia and I wouldn’t even risk waiting for the train alone here. I don’t live in Mayberry. I’m not worried about my son getting “stolen” and killed; I’m worried that my child will get beaten and brutalized by other children. Or molested. Or offered drugs. These are real fears for those of us who live in what you folks might call ghettos. I don’t have luxury of letting my young son cross town alone. He’ll have to wait until he is big enough not to be picked on.

  47. SOA June 26, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

    Warren: I think it is telling that you have an excuse about why your child or you can’t have a friend that does not live in your neighborhood. Are you an elitist? Like maybe anyone that does not live in your neighborhood is not good enough to associate with?

    see I can turn that right around on you.

  48. Melody June 26, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Really? Animals were emotionally tortured and damaged for life, so that we can have a study that shows our kids need to get out and play?

  49. derfel cadarn June 27, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    I agree 100%, it is this safety at all cost phobia that will be humanity’s downfall.

  50. Warren June 28, 2014 at 7:58 am #

    Dolly,

    You should really go back sometimes and read your own comments, then maybe the insanity might become clear. Your so called turn around makes no sense.

    And in a way I am elitist, because if you ever showed in the area, I would call the authorities. We do not like having people with severe mental illness out on their own, where they can hurt themselves or others.

  51. Sia June 28, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    I think that ‘mile’ comment is very telling. A mile, barring special needs, is honestly not all THAT far. There might be other real hazards within that mile e.g. crossing a major A-road, for example but…the distance itself? Yeah, not so much.

    A mile for adults is:

    24 mins walk
    11 mins jog
    8 minutes run
    4 minutes cycling

    (Thank you, free maps. Also, that’s actually what a bit over a mile is)

    I dunno…Maybe double it for kids. Still, barring disabilities, I don’t see any reason why you would NEED the car for a mile or two.

  52. SOA June 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    well let’s hope no one you don’t like ever moves into your neighborhood Warren because you think you can just send your kids outside to play but then barr whomever you don’t like from coming near you or your kids. World does not work that way, If you let your kids roam the neighborhood (which is fine) you have to accept all your neighbors can interact with them. So if I lived near you I could interact with your kids and you all I wanted and nothing you could do about it but keep them on your own property.

    As long as they are in the street or sidewalk or in my yard or in front of my yard, I have every right to speak to them. You don’t control your neighborhood. You kinda remind me of that guy that shot Trayvon Martin. He thought he could control who walked in his neighborhood too.

  53. Warren July 1, 2014 at 1:20 am #

    Dolly,
    Are you really that stupid or are you that insane? Which is it.

    On your property, you are right. Sidewalk, road or any other public area, you are wrong. Because once I have told you to stay away from me or my kids, the responsibility is now on you. Continue against my wishes and you risk arrest and or a visit to the ER. See, you do not have the right to interact with anyone that does not want an idiot like you to interact with them. It is called harassment you moron.

    I have no problem getting physical to protect my family and friends. I have in the past, and would not hesitate in the future. And when all is said and done, I would sleep like a baby.

  54. Dirk July 1, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

  55. Warren July 2, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    Dirk,

    Be kind to yourself. This woman is a psycho who should not be around anyone, let alone kids. And I would not stand for Dolly to interact with me or my kids, no matter when or where.

  56. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I don’t see any comments by anyone named Dolly…

  57. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Is SOA Dolly?

  58. Dirk July 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    SOA didn’t say anything crazy I saw from a quick look. But she seemed to piss you of a great deal for some reason…

  59. Warren July 2, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

    Dirk,
    Have been dealing with SOA, Dolly, Moron or whatever you want to call her for awhile, and you really don’t want to side with someone with so many mental health issues.

  60. SOA July 6, 2014 at 7:25 pm #

    Again you don’t own the street or sidewalk Warren as much as you would like to think you do. If your kids are riding bikes in the street you cannot stop us from getting out our bikes and riding in the street too. If your kids are playing hopscotch on the sidewalk I have every right to walk past them on the sidewalk or my kids can go out there and start playing hopscotch with them or next to them.

    Again that is the drawback of living in a neighborhood. If you step off your property then you can and will have to interact with other people. If you want to 100% control who talks to your kids or you, then do like my parents and move way out in the country by yourself. Otherwise you have to learn to get along with your neighbors.

  61. SOA July 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

    FYI: Harassment is not and never will be letting your kids out to play in their neighborhood on public property. And if you tried to call the cops about it they would tell you to keep your kids on your property. Which means there goes your free range. Because they would tell you the same thing I would tell you. If they are in the public street or public playground or public sidewalk-its fair game. As long as I never say anything harassing to them or touch them, I would be breaking zero laws.

    It is not harassing to speak to someone. Only to speak threateningly to someone. So from your description the only one who would break those laws would be you.