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The Anxiety Epidemic in Children: What are the Causes?

An online lecture and in-depth discussion with Peter Gray

Sponsored by the Prosocial Commons

Friday, September 9, 6-7:30 PM EDT

Register here

The topic: Rates of anxiety and depression have been rising in children since the 1980’s and might have accelerated during the last ten years. Is social media to blame? Perhaps in part, but Peter Gray thinks that the problem runs much deeper, extending to nearly every aspect of child development and education in the modern world.

The speaker: Peter Gray, research professor at Boston College, wrote the first introductory psychology textbook from an evolutionary perspective (now in its 8th edition, with David Bjorklund). He became interested in child development and education when his son rebelled against his public school education and thrived at an alternative school called the Sudbury Valley School. This caused Peter to inquire deeply into the nature of child development and education from an evolutionary perspective. He is author of Free to Learn, maintains a blog on Psychology Today, and co-founded the  Let Grow Foundation, which advocates for evolution-informed practices for parents, schools, and communities. 

The lecture: Peter’s lecture will focus on trends in rates of anxiety and depression in children and the causes behind the trends. His lecture will be followed by a short Q&A with the audience. 

The in-depth discussion: For those who want to dig deeper, Peter has suggested some online material that can be read beforehand, which links to the academic literature. A 30-minute discussion with a group that has read and discussed this material among themselves will follow the lecture and general Q&A.

Note: The discussion group is exclusive to members of the Prosocial Commons and will be action-oriented. Go here to learn about and join the Prosocial Commons.

Online material for the in-depth discussion:

More Play and Less Therapy for Students

Why Kids are Suffering Today

How Magazines’ Advice to Parents Has Changed Over the Century

Research Reveals Long-term Harm of State Pre-K Program

The Toxic Consequences of Attending a High-Achieving School

Hype vs. Fact on Social Media and Teens’ Mental Health

Children’s and Teens’ Suicide Related to the School Calendar

Published On: August 23, 2022

Peter Gray

Peter Gray

Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, has published research in evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology; is author of Psychology (Worth Publishers), a leading introductory college textbook now in its 6th edition; and is a well-known authority on children’fs play. He earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia University and Ph.D at the Rockefeller University. His recent research and writings have focused on the roles of play in hunter-gatherers social life and education, the relation between play deprivation and mental disorders among children today, and the conditions that optimize children’fs abilities to bring their playfulness and curiosity to bear on their own education. He is author of Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self Reliant, and Better Prepared for Life (Basic Books, March, 2013), and he writes a popular blog called Freedom to Learn for Psychology Today magazine.

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