We’ve covered many angles of the growing mental health crisis for younger generations. From a lack of a belief in God, to the 24/7 pressures of social media, there is ample evidence both are huge contributors to the now nearly 40-year rise in mental health issues in children and young adults. New research illustrates another key point about what’s been changing in our society. Participation in organized sports.
Twenty years ago, before the proliferation of the digital age in every aspect of our lives, 75% of school-aged children participated in an organized sport by the age of 12. According to the Aspen project, that number was down to 69% three years ago and the latest trends suggest a steeper drop-off into the mid-50% range. According to a study published in Pediatric Research, researchers found that children born in 1997 and 1998 who’d participated in organized sports experience less emotional distress, anxiety, shyness, and social withdrawal.
Previous research has shown that participation in organized sports leads to higher average earnings and more stable relationships, but this is the first of the current generation of young adults to specifically link mental health research to organized sports participation. As we’re searching for answers as to how to best address the rise of mental health issues with children, it’s unlikely digital distraction and pressure will lessen. So, early participation in an organized sport or two could be one of the more important ways to help create healthier children physically and mentally.
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