"Helicopter parents" have their own mental disorder which contributes to the insanity of their children. I think children in the US are hyper-supervised today, because of the irrational paranoia - hyper-fear of disease (flu infections do last longer, flesh-eating bacteria), hyper-fear of bullying (kids end up in the hospital these days from bullying), hyper-fear of kidnapping (Hell, I think there were at least five women rescued just last year from years-long enslavement by psychos - that scares the crap out of me, and I'm no longer the target victim age group), prevalence of guns (school shooting every other week??), kids get raped by other kids (we had two cases prosecuted in Seattle alone in the last few months).
I maintain it's a downward spiral - dysfunctional hyper-paranoia dissolving sense of community and twisting minds leading to twisted minds and hyper-paranoia creating dysfunctional people, rinse and repeat.
I'm glad to think things may be different in other countries. I'm just saying the "let kids run free like they did 50 years ago and magically we cure the social ills" is naive.
I think kids may be physically present with parents more - I'm neither agreeing nor disagreeing with you - but the prevalence of electronic devices - DVD players, phones, games - means they're actually spending less time connecting with each other. How often do you see an adult at the mall ignoring her two kids to talk on the phone? Or dad present at the playground, with his face in his tablet, instead of watching - let alone interacting with - his kids (or even other adults - erosion of community).
I see the mega-churches as just another example - five thousand people present, but not sharing the experience. They all go home after the ritual, but how many potluck dinners do they have anymore? How many "let's go clean up the park" events? How many events in which adults are encouraged to interact with other adults as human beings, instead of some bizarre collection of withdrawn and frightful individuals?
PostmortemThe beauty of a rant is that I can rip my own comments from a G+ conversation, throw them up here, and some long exposition to explain or form total narrative is not mandatory, because it's my rant and I'll break design rules if I want to.