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Play Deficiencies Cause Alarm
Detail: In the not-so-distant past, “going out to play” was the norm for most American children. However, according to a University of Michigan study, children spend 50 percent less time outside than they did just 20 years ago — and the 6.5 hours a day they spend with electronic media means that sitting in front of a screen has replaced going out.

Play research has shown some frightening public health and social trends related to play deficiencies: rising childhood obesity, 4.5 million children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, an increase in childhood depression and classroom behavioral problems involving violence, and an inability to interact well with peers.

Physical activity is known to lessen the symptoms of mild attention deficit disorder, and is associated with much lower incidences of childhood obesity. Active kids are also more facile intellectually and perform better academically in the long term.

Physically engaging play is actually more fun than the virtual sort, and the enlivenment one gets from it can transcend the allure of sedentary life in a two-dimensional, electronic world. But breaking away from the draw of a well-crafted, image-laden on-screen story line requires broad cultural reinforcement. It helps to be aware of how important play is to one’s development. To make that happen, we need a change in public consciousness about play — to show that it is not trivial or elective — as well as focused community and parental support.

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Source: Based on “Let the Children Play (Some More)” by Stuart Brown, The New York Times, September 2, 2009
Date: September 4 2009