A British study confirms something that you may have been feeling: Ten is the new two.
More precisely, 11 is the new 9. Parents who played outside at age 9, on average, now don’t let their kids go outside, unsupervised, until age 11. This is not in response to an actual rising crime rate — crime today is lower than then ’80s and ’90s when today’s parents were growing up. (And it’s not down due to helicoptering — crime is down against adults, too, and we don’t “helicopter” them.) The higher age “floor” is in response to a sad and dispiriting cycle of ever less trust in what kids can do on their own, which leads to kids who can do ever less on their own.
Over at Let Grow I discuss the study, and how our risk calculations fail to consider the yin to the yang: keeping kids safe inside might be harming them in other ways, the way keeping a race horse in the barn too long may result in an weak, stumbling animal too old to develop into a race horse at all.
Gosh that is depressing. So here’s our hope: Renormalizing the idea — and sight and sound — of kids playing outside, unsupervised. And declaring that if we’re going to focus on childhood danger, let’s focus on the danger of no childhood at all, just quiet convalescence, at home, for 11 years, screen in one hand, juice box in the other.
(Hmm. Not sure that was a whole lot less depressing.)