There is a theory as propounded by author Richard Louv in his book named Last Child in the Woods. As per this theory, today’s society has developed a Nature Deficit Disorder which is a societal disconnect with nature that is affecting today’s children. It is the plugged in culture of today that keeps us and our kids indoors which is not in keeping with the sort of life that we were meant to live.
Ultimately problems such as attention problems, obesity, anxiety and depression can result from this condition, which is not so much a medical condition as a sad testament to the alienation of the human race from nature.
It isn’t just individuals and families but entire communities that suffer as a result.
Consider the many problems that can occur due to young people losing touch with their natural environment.
They are so busy with their over stimulating artificial environments, with their TVs, computers, cell phones, gaming stations and so on, that they have lost the simple pleasures of just playing outdoors.
There is also the added dimension to this – our desire to keep our kids safe from the traffic, marauders, allergens, bugs and viruses, and so on also makes us keep them indoors leading them to depend upon various artificial devices for stimulation and companionship.
Research has also showed that contact with nature has therapeutic effects such as alleviating depression, obesity and ADD and that it is necessary for a child’s development – physical as well as emotional and spiritual.
It has also been seen that environment based education can help to improve academic performance, improve and enhance creativity, decision making and even critical thinking and problem solving. Nature helps to stimulate creativity.
Parents can actively control Nature Deficit Disorder by taking the following steps –
- Understand that being with flowers, woods, streams, etc. are the best toys for kids and can calm them.
- Allow kids to be in situations of controlled risk; don’t be over protective.
- Have them be part of nature oriented camps and schools, so that the children have scope for unstructured time in the environment, which requires them to use their senses and play in accordance with their own wishes.
- There should be outdoor time scheduled each day for the family – there may be lots of great activities right in your backyard!