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The most valued childhood experiences of people who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s are things that the current generation of kids are far less likely to know.
What stands out is that people are nostalgic for a youthful sense of independence, connectedness, and creativity that is less common in the 21st century.
American children have less independence and autonomy today.
Kids who have autonomy and independence are less likely to be anxious. They are more likely to grow into self-sufficient adults.
A childhood privilege was spending regular time with parents and access to meaningful interactions with other family members, especially grandparents.
Close grandparent-child relationships have significant mental health benefits for both children and grandparents.
Many people feel that time for reading was a major privilege of their childhood, where they had access to thousands of books from libraries, bookstores, or books passed along.
Reading is good for children. It makes them more literate, better at math, more academically successful. Yet, the number of children who never read for pleasure has tripled since 1984.
45% of teens say they are online on a "near-constant" basis. Three years ago, 24% of teens went online "almost constantly."
Gratitude for a childhood free of social media is now a common thread. Technology habits of today's children come with an increased risk of isolation, depression and other mental health issues. The more hours a day teens spend in front of screens, the less satisfied they are.
It is only as adults that we are able to recognize all the factors that made us into who we are today.
A healthy childhood is a privilege. But even children who do grow up in a stable environment may not have the kind of adventurous, family-oriented, independent childhood that should be the norm. Maybe it's time for a change.
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