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On ‘becoming social’: the importance of collaborative free play in childhood

There is increasing concern about declining mental health amongst children in the UK and the USA. Evolutionary and anthropological theorists have begun to build a theory linking this situation to decreasing opportunities to engage in free play. This paper will explore typical contexts for children in these nations, concluding that a range of recently emerging environments have decreased opportunities for collaborative peer free play and ‘discovery’ activities for the current generation. We will draw the theoretical analysis from a broad area of research encompassing psychology, anthropology, education, sociology, marketing, and philosophy to offer a new blend of practical and theoretical perspectives that may shed further light upon this topic.