The Kids Don’t Play Anymore

The Kids Don’t Play Anymore
The brand-new subdivisions of Toronto roll on and on into the cornfields, a new one every month. I drive by them all the time. This is where young families live. But the streets and sidewalks are eerily quiet. You hardly ever see a child. No kids riding bikes. No kids playing shinny. No kids running wild in packs until their moms call them in for supper. It’s as if the kids have vanished.

Where are they? Indoors, doing homework or playing Nintendo. In all-day kindergarten or regulated daycare. Instead of pickup street hockey, they’re playing organized sports with regularly scheduled practices and games, supervised by grown-ups. They’re at Kumon or dance or art, or swimming or tae kwon do. The children of the upper middle class are busy, busy, busy, with schedules that would rival that of any CEO.

It never stops. In high school, they start building their résumés for university. Community service? Check. Sports? Check. Squeeze in a part-time job. If they have some athletic talent, their parents will start investing serious time and money in it. By 18, they are seasoned veterans of the programmed life.

No wonder so many of them are helpless. All their lives, somebody else has told them what to do and where to be. Once they’re on their own, they fall apart. Universities report record levels of stress among their students. Professors complain that for their male students in particular, 19 is the new 17. The kids have never…
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