What is “nature deficit disorder” and what can you do to protect your kids from it? Nature Deficit Disorder is not an official medical diagnosis, although Richard Louv thinks it should be. The spokesperson for National Public Lands Day says kids are spending less time outdoors in nature and more time indoors with TV and computers, which has many negative effects. “Well, one of the obvious things is child obesity, which is skyrocketing. It has huge implications for later on in terms of diabetes and other health problems, which shows how risky it is actually to keep our kids indoors.”
Louv says kids with symptoms of attention deficit disorder get better with just a small amount of outdoor activity, they also show greater creativity, and improved test scores. He's not suggesting kids abstain from the boob tube and video games, he simply says there's room for a balance. He says spending time in nature is a great learning experience for kids, as they get to use all of their senses. Louv doesn't put all the blame on parents. He says there's not enough encouragement in schools. “Well the schools have often been going in the opposite direction. About 40% of school districts have either cut or eliminated recess. So, you know, I think when you begin to look at studies that show just how good this is for cognitive development for learning for test scores, in terms of getting out into nature, that what we really need is a Leave No Child Inside campaign for education.”
Louv says many younger parents didn't have experiences with nature, so they don't know how to pass along the experience to their own kids. He says Saturday, National Public Lands Day, is a great day to start learning. He expects about 100,000 volunteers will be out improving the public lands, cleaning up invasive species, planting trees, removing trash, restoring streams and fixing trails.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, says parents have to be more intentional about getting kids outdoors, and don't be so afraid of running into strangers. He calls it “stranger danger,” which he says is largely created by the media. Saturday, September 30, 2006 is the 13th annual National Public Lands Day.
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Public Lands Day (Get involved)