Even with all the benefits of free play, studies show that children today spend a lot more time focused on adult-initiated structured play and academics than ever before. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 stressed the need for math and reading skills but neglected the importance of play and other things like arts and active time. Many schools no longer have recess and where it does exist it is much shorter than just a decade ago. After school, many kids are rushed around to other organized activities or day cares.
These kids are missing out; not just missing the benefits of free play but also missing the freedom to choose what to do with their own time. Over-scheduling can lead to stressed out kids, depressed young adults, and then unhappy adults who haven’t gotten the chance to enjoy their lives.
There are many reasons for this trend; society’s desire for academic perfection has parents of young children rushing to buy their babies the latest learning tools and toys, and worrying about whether their kids are smart enough to get into a good preschool. Parents today are also more apt to limit outdoor play because of concerns that kids will get hurt. Connecting with nature is important for us human animals and running around in the fresh air is definatly a plus for people of all ages.