Whatever happened to 'go outside and play'?

Story highlights

  • After an article about overscheduled children, readers shared their thoughts
  • Some commenters said childhood should be a time of freedom and character-building
  • Some say a key childhood right is to play outdoors without hovering parents
  • Some said play dates can be restrictive and take the imagination out of playtime

CNN's Josh Levs covers top stories and hosts "Dads Do it Differently" on HLN's "Raising America." His latest column was inspired in part by his HOBY World Leadership Congress keynote talk, "Shine."

(CNN)"Parental competition" has sent American families into a frenzy of overscheduling activities for their kids. And out of fear, we're depriving them of what childhood should be -- a time of freedom and character-building. Our neighborhoods, once the classic microcosm of a free America, have devolved into little more than supervised "dorms."

Josh Levs
Those were the sentiments behind many passionate responses to my column, "Overscheduled kids, anxious parents," about the conundrum facing millions of parents like me: Determining how many, and which, activities in which to enroll our kids. On CNN.com, Facebook, and Twitter, readers responded in droves.
They were largely in agreement. With children penned in by too much structure, lacking the chance and encouragement to "go out and play," make up their own games and use their imaginations, we're hurting them, readers said.