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Children are suffering a severe deficit of play – Peter Gray

Children are suffering a severe deficit of play – Peter Gray
When I was a child in the 1950s, my friends and I had two educations. We had school (which was not the big deal it is today), and we also had what I call a hunter-gather education. We played in mixed-age neighbourhood groups almost every day after school, often until dark. We played all weekend and all summer long. We had time to explore in all sorts of ways, and also time to become bored and figure out how to overcome boredom, time to get into trouble and find our way out of it, time to daydream, time to immerse ourselves in hobbies, and time to read comics and whatever else we wanted to read rather than the books assigned to us. What I learnt in my hunter-gatherer education has been far more valuable to my adult life than what I learnt in school, and I think others in my age group would say the same if they took time to think about it. Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing. Learning versus playing. Daily Weekly

Do you want a meaningful or a happy life? – Roy F Baumeister Parents often say: ‘I just want my children to be happy.’ It is unusual to hear: ‘I just want my children’s lives to be meaningful,’ yet that’s what most of us seem to want for ourselves. We fear meaninglessness. We fret about the ‘nihilism’ of this or that aspect of our culture. Let’s start with the last question. The difference between meaningfulness and happiness was the focus of an investigation I worked on with my fellow social psychologists Kathleen Vohs, Jennifer Aaker and Emily Garbinsky, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology this August. As you might expect, the two states turned out to overlap substantially. The first had to do with getting what you want and need. The second set of differences involved time frame. This begins to suggest a theory for why it is we care so much about meaning. Social life was the locus of our third set of differences. We found echoes of this phenomenon when we asked our subjects how much time they spent taking care of children.

Why Our Kids Need Play, Now More Than Ever - Sarah Goodyear "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." It's a folk proverb that was first recorded in English in 1659 (and used to horrific effect in The Shining). Whatever its origin, the truth behind it is self-evident. People who grind away ceaselessly at labor lose their sparkling edge. And yet play, the old-fashioned kind where kids engage with each other in the physical world and make up the rules as they go along, is harder and harder to come by these days. U.S. schools, under pressure to improve test performance, are increasingly oriented toward a homogenized curriculum that is learned by rote. All of this, argues Peter Gray in a powerful new essay published in Aeon, is resulting in children who are increasingly impaired socially and intellectually -- less creative, less empathetic, and more emotionally unstable. Gray, a psychologist and research professor at Boston College, is the author of a book called Free to Learn, and blogs for Psychology Today at Freedom to Learn.

Playtime for adults is not just fun and games Dancing in the dark: No Lights, No Lycra is a runaway success. Photo: Angela Wylie When the lights go down I have no idea what to expect. But the music starts and it just happens: we dance. This is not alcohol-tainted, show pony strutting at a flash city nightclub. More than 120 people have paid $5 to dance the way we did when we were kids. Every song, whether sublime (soul diva, Aretha Franklin) or ridiculous ('90s Eurotrash, Aqua), is met with the same heady abandon. Advertisement ''Coming here is my sanity,'' says 31-year-old textile design student and mother-of-two Liza Freddi. This is No Lights No Lycra - a dance class in the dark, with no steps and no teacher, where being immersed in the joy of movement is the only objective. By evening's end, I'm riding a high of euphoria. The runaway success of these nights - No Lights began in 2009 with two friends in Melbourne and has grown to 33 locations around the world - is suggestive of a culture bursting to play.

Daddy's home! First time here? The best job in the world is also the hardest one, and that's what being a parent is all about. This is why we have created this house, which is dedicated to dads around the globe. It is full of useful tips and information which is brought to you with a humorous light touch. Take a tour of the house: Start in the garage, where you can watch videos showing the unboxing of Tiny Love products. Venture to the living room, where you'll get tips and advice about surviving pregnancy. Head over to the home office, where you'll find short guides for a variety of situations you might encounter. Upstairs, in the baby's room, get a preview of the profound changes you can expect to experience in your baby's life. And in the bathroom, learn effective ways to nurture a close and loving relationship with your baby. This house is stocked with nothing but useful tidbits to help you on this miraculous journey through you baby's first years. You go dad!

Doctors brace for 40 years of asbestos illness Asbestos study findings: DIY home renovators and their families are regularly exposing themselves to asbestos. Do-it-yourself home renovators are regularly exposing themselves and their children to cancer-causing asbestos, a study of NSW residents has found. Experts say the disturbing findings show that, despite repeated warnings, Australians are still not protecting themselves from asbestos-related diseases. It's a horrible disease but it's completely preventable. The study of almost 860 people who recently completed a do-it-yourself renovation found more than 61 per cent said they had been exposed to asbestos. Co-author Anthony Johnson said the more people were exposed to asbestos, the more likely they were to develop conditions such as the deadly cancer mesothelioma. Advertisement ''There is no safe level of exposure,'' said Dr Johnson, a respiratory physician from the Liverpool area. Dr Johnson said, on average, mesothelioma would only develop 42 years after exposure.

How Caring for Aging Parents Affects a Career - Rosanna Fay Having kids isn't the only family consideration that affects work/life balance. Having chosen the child-free life, I didn’t expect that caring for loved ones would play any significant role in my career path. But I didn’t factor in my mom and dad. Like many in my generation, I never fully considered the potential need to care for my aging parents. Foregoing children was a complicated, difficult decision for me. It was riddled with fears about my parenting abilities, an irrational terror of labor pains, and the reality that I simply never felt ready. My father’s health was the first to go. Next, my wonderful, imperfect parents began escalating minor logistical messes into major crises. Each incident sparked an endless round of phone calls. Fast-forward 10 years, to 2008. While managing two terminally ill parents, I did my best to juggle their needs with my company’s. While it was a relief to have tedious responsibilities off my plate, I wanted the challenging ones back.

How far is too far in the market for human bodies? - The Body Sphere You need money. Should you be able to sell one of your kidneys? You want a baby but can't conceive. For thousands of years, human beings were traded as slaves. Saying, 'it's my body, I can do what I like with it' is an expression of modern-day personal freedom and autonomy. It also leads us to believe that we have the exclusive right to decide what to do with our bodies. Phillips says that treating our bodies as property masks the complex issues around the commercial trading of bodies and body parts. Just as we have the right to say whether we want to be buried or want to be cremated, we have a right to say in relation to our religious or other beliefs that it would be entirely inappropriate. Surrogacy is one case in point. Proponents argue that all paid work is akin to renting out your body, and this is how surrogacy should also be regarded. According to Phillips, 'Surrogates are encouraged to think of what they are doing as just like renting out a house for nine months'.

Maximum adult lifespan: Debate over how long humans can live Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images Read the rest of Laura Helmuth's series on longevity. There’s an oddly persistent myth that people have always had a good chance of living to a ripe old age if they could just survive childhood. Why has life expectancy continued to go up steadily over the past several decades? Public health measures get the credit for most of the increase in life expectancy that happened from the mid-1800s to mid-1900s. If you look at the top causes of death in the United States in 1900 and 2010, you might think you’re examining data from two entirely different species. Heart disease isn’t a new invention. Because heart disease is such a killer, anything that reduces its incidence or treats it can save a lot of lives and boost our overall average life expectancy. Heart disease is still a horribly common way to die, and it’s hard to appreciate the number of deaths that didn’t happen. So what’s next? Video is courtesy of Project M.

Moving moments in the office key to a healthier nation Millions of office staff need to change the way they use their workplaces if Australia is to tackle issues such as depression and physical fitness, a conference on wellbeing in the workplace has been told. Giving workers more control of their environment and work conditions could also help reduce widespread anxiety, the recent Committee for Economic Development of Australia conference heard. Steve Coster, a principal at the nation's biggest design and architecture firm, Hassell, told delegates in Melbourne that too many "knowledge workers" were sitting at a single desk for long periods each day. In office-based jobs, 77 per cent of the work day is spent sitting, according to research by Medibank and the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. Advertisement Mr Coster said technology had reduced the need for a permanent, fixed office desk in many businesses. Ms Fitzpatrick said it was impossible for many bosses to give staff full control. ''But we can give them more control in some areas.

Heavy drinkers upping their intake even more Heavy drinking is increasing among the top 10 per cent of drinkers in Australia but the remaining 90 per cent of the population is drinking less, a study reveals. University of NSW researcher Michael Livingston said the finding could explain sharp increases in alcohol-related harm such as assaults and hospital presentations for intoxication, despite average consumption in Australia remaining steady. This new evidence about the divergence in habits between heavy and light drinkers goes some way to explaining the apparent contradictions. Dr Livingston, of the university's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, made the finding after analysing data from four national surveys that provided representative data on the drinking habits of more than 20,000 Australians 14 years and older over the past decade. He found the top 10 per cent of drinkers were consuming an average 2303 standard drinks a year in 2010 – which was 90 more drinks than in 2001. Advertisement

Care crusade Demanding better: Petrea Salter has taken her frustrations with the aged care system online in the form of a blog. Photo: Jay Cronan Jane Seaholme was threatened with stalking charges in a legal letter after repeatedly complaining about cold and poor food - such as hot dogs for Mother's Day - served to her dementia sufferer mother, Phyllis, in a Wonthaggi nursing home. ''One night when she stood up to ask if anyone else's food was cold, she was told to sit down - and later told to complain directly to the cook. Petrea Salter was threatened, in an email from a director of nursing, with loss of her guardianship over her father when she became emotional about a Brisbane nursing home losing track of her father overnight. 'My mother was severely damaged on the watch of those with a duty to her. Says Salter: ''It is just annoying that these types of homes think they can scare relatives into keeping quiet so the truth is never brought out in the open.'' Advertisement

Warm winter: fish on the move, bad news for undertakers | World news Vulnerable: the warmer weather actually increases frost damage to plants. Photograph: Alamy Unusual fish in the waters, more frost-damaged plants and bad business for undertakers – just some of the effects of one of Australia's warmest winters on record. The Bureau of Meteorology says this year's winter is set to be one degree warmer than the long-term average, from 1961 to 1990. August is also expected to be very warm, with the bureau forecasting a hot end to the month next week. "We won't be short of the warmest winter on record, which is currently 1996, which was 1.4 degrees above the long-term average," David Jones, head of climate analysis, told Guardian Australia. "Australia has warmed by around a degree since the 1950s, which has affected every month and season. "In the last decade, we've had two winters slightly below average in temperature and eight above average. This warmer weather is having a variety of impacts, on land and sea.

Meals on Wheels drowns in red tape The burden of government compliance poses a threat to the long-term viability of Meals on Wheels (MoW) services around the nation, Flinders University’s Professor Melanie Oppenheimer told a Canberra audience today. Dr Oppenheimer, newly-appointed Professor of History at Flinders and a leading expert on volunteers, presented the preliminary findings of a three-year Australian Research Council-funded project – the first national research study of Australian MoWs – at the national conference of the Australian Meals on Wheels Association (AMOWA). She said that while MoW staff and volunteers recognised the importance of the government regulations, many felt they were “drowning in red tape”. “We thought that the project would reveal a lack of volunteers as the major problem facing MoWs. “It’s not that the regulations aren’t necessary – it’s just the sorts of things that the MoWs are now being asked to do are not jobs for volunteers,” she said. Image: Meals on Wheels from Shutterstock

Depression in residential aged care 2008-2012 Entry into residential aged care can be a challenging experience and the presence of depression can add to this challenge. This report provides the first in-depth review of available administrative data to explore the prevalence and characteristics of people with symptoms of depression in residential aged care. In 2012, over half (52%) of all permanent residential aged care residents had symptoms of depression. Between 2008 and 2012, residents admitted to care for the first time who had symptoms of depression were more likely to have high care needs, and were more likely to have behaviours which impacted on care needs. ISSN 1329-5705; ISBN 978-1-74249-500-2; Cat. no. Publication Depression in residential aged care 2008–2012 (2.6 MB PDF) Publication table of contents Recommended citation