A Nature Shortage

2 10 2012

Are children out of touch with nature? Are they mentally, socially, and physically hindered by their lack of outdoor experiences?

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, will answer these questions with a definitive, “YES!” He coined the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” which describes how todays children and adolescents are completely disconnected with nature and the potential ramifications of such a disconnect.

A common alternative to outdoor play, kids are spending more and more time playing video games or other electronic devices

No one can deny that with the growth of technology such as the computer and internet, video games and television, staying indoors has become easy, entertaining and in some ways, natural. Parents even feel that their kids are not necessarily safe out-of-doors and so encourage their children to find ways to play inside. Furthermore, in some areas, finding an untouched “natural” environment is next to impossible. But are the problems that can come from too much indoor play worth keeping kids in the easier, “safer” environment?

Effects of Nature Deficit Disorder:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • obesity
  • attention problems
  • health problems (asthma, cardiovascular issues, etc.)

Attention deficit disorder (ADD) has been linked to a deficiency in outdoor exposure with several treatments suggesting that kids need to spend time outside. Some studies conclude that getting to use all of the senses in a natural, peaceful environment can be very helpful in reducing ADD symptoms.

toddler picking blackberries

Getting outside gives kids a chance to use all their senses

toddler eating blackberries

Munching on freshly picked berries is just one of the many activities that young kids love.

Being outside not only helps kids to avoid the problems mentioned above but it can truly help children grow into healthy, responsible, and intelligent adults.

Benefits to interacting outside with nature:

  • better overall health, lower blood pressure, reduced stress
  • decrease in aggressive tendencies
  • better immune system
  • higher sense of self-worth
  • improved attention span
  • more responsible when it comes to environmental interaction (littering, sustainability)

How do we make a change?

Louv suggests that parents don’t try to force their kids outside but rather foster a love for nature through their own habits. Encourage children to join you in your walk about the park or takes your kids fishing or on a hike. Give kids the freedom to explore, even if it’s simply the discovery of bugs when turning over a large rock. You won’t be sorry you got outside a bit yourself and your kids will thank you in the years to come. Join the Children and Nature Network to join thousands of others in the effort to connect kids to nature.

Grand Teton National Park

There is a beautiful world outside waiting to be explored. (Grand Teton National Park, WY)

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6 responses

2 10 2012
Stan Peters

I go outside in World of Warcraft does that count?

3 10 2012
cherylangyx

Kids need to take back the life that deserve….OUTSIDE!

3 10 2012
stevenygaard

There is so much information and stimulation from a light breeze; If you look to the trees, you see and connect with the leaves.
That sort of thing.

Truth

8 10 2012
fatimahyasin

The way free-lancers post articles online is tailored toward this attention deficiency, I think it’s all kind of sad.

9 10 2012
analeastyles

I totally agree Fatimah! Good point. We are learning how to tailor our articles to keep people’s attention when perhaps people really just need to learn to slow down.

9 10 2012
fatimahyasin

I’m guilty of it too, unfortunately.

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