June 21, 2010

Nature-Deficit Disorder

Most of us, at some level, understand that kids and teens don’t get outside enough. Who does these days? As a child I spent every non-school moment possible out of doors, hanging out at the “playground,” getting in trouble with my boy tribe, and coming “in” only when it was time to eat. We had a large (to a young male) chunk of undeveloped property behind our home that was a natural forest. It was our magic world, both a little frightening and a place my little band of guys could escape and find some adventure. At school, we had outdoor play, called recess, as an important part of a school day. Even winter weather in MN wasn’t a barrier to building “forts,” and the joys of making just about everything a target for a snowball. Sadly, for today’s young people in the digital age, much of that lifestyle has gone away.

One author, Richard Louv, has started a global conversation about the issue and given the sit in front of a screen epidemic a name . . . nature-deficit disorder. The new edition of his book, Last Child in the Woods, explains the sad costs he feels result from kids becoming “increasingly disconnected from the natural world,” and living in what he terms a, "denatured childhood." Louv feels that by truly appreciating the role nature can play in a child’s development we may lessen the frequency and severity of childhood physical and emotional issues. Reading this wonderful book will help you understand this important issue, and inspire you to get yourself and the young people in your life off on an outdoor adventure.

A challenging idea this author offers us is that nature needs children! He claims that if we don’t have young people with an appreciation for the beauty of the natural world, who will care enough to become its protective stewards in the future?

Use this link if you want to order Last Child in the Woods from Amazon.com

PS: In a curious combination of the digital and natural worlds, one of this blog’s readers pointed out a new iPhone hiking application. It comes with GPS, and topo maps of hiking trails and state parks! Purchasing the app even supports the American Hiking Society! Hey, if it gets kids outside I’m all for it!

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  1. That's a haunting idea, that of a "de-natured childhood". Nice to have it brought to a place of public consciousness. thanks.

  2. Tim W.11:38 AM

    Funny you should post this just as I'm reading the current issue of Sierra magazine (from Sierra Club). In it they have an article featuring an African-American man who is mentoring young African-American males and in introducing them to nature and the out-of-doors. The article discusses why most young African-American males don't have a relationship with nature.

    Here is the link to the article titled X-Box Detox: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201007/xbox.aspx

  3. Chuck H.11:41 AM

    Thanks Earl for posting about this book. It should also be followed with another book that is equally powerful:
    Coyote's Guide to Connecting with Nature, by Jon Young, Evan McGown and Ellen Haas from Wilderness Awareness School


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