Nature Deficit Disorder* (NDD) is, unfortunately, something that has gained recognition as something that strongly impacts today’s youth. Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods”, coined this term and uses it to describe the “human costs of alienation from nature.” (*Note – it is not a medical term)
As the role of technology in a child’s life increases, their interaction with the outdoors is often inversely impacted. Many of today’s youth would prefer to be using various devices than being outside. While this isn’t the case with 100% of the population, the numbers of children learning, playing, and discovering nature is dwindling.
But is technology so bad? After all, kids have the ability to use their devices to complete school work, and use educational apps like Ready4 SAT, MathMotion, TED talks, Hooked on Phonics, Mendeley, Habitat the Game, and many more! Isn’t it a great thing that we have these educational tools at our fingertips and can continue learning even outside of the classroom?
Yes, it’s great when technology can be used as a tool to increase knowledge. The internet has so much information out there for us to utilize, it’d be a shame not to use it! However, this needs to be balanced with outdoor, hands-on education. Many children under the age of 12 are in front of screens for an average of 8hrs/day and it goes up as children become teens since many take their phones to bed with them! Getting outdoor time in there is vital.
Researchers discovered that a lack of regular exposure to nature can lead to sensory disorders, attention difficulties, increased risk of obesity, and more emotional and physical issues. It also decreases the sense of environmental stewardship. If people aren’t in nature, how can they care about it?
NDD can impact anyone regardless of age, but it is critical to get young children outdoors as their development will improve with exposure. Children will problem solve while trying to figure out how to climb a tree. They will learn to balance as they walk on uneven ground in the woods. They will gain coordination as they jump from rock to rock or balance on a fallen tree. They will become more aware of their surroundings as they will hear mysterious noises (birds singing, sticks breaking, squirrels scampering, water flowing, etc…) from all directions. Their imagination will soar as they wonder what lives in the depths of a pond. Children who aren’t exposed to nature have an increased fear of the unknown, causing them to be more anxious than those who get regular outdoor time. This anxiety can lead to behavioral problems in the classroom and at home.
Fortunately, NDD is reversible – just get outside! Get your child discovering and playing and you will notice a world of a difference. Bucks County Audubon Society has 6+ miles of natural trails that meander through fields, forests, and streams, and are open from dawn-dusk daily! Take your family (and your dog!) on a hike today and enjoy the benefits that nature brings.
If you’re looking for an outdoor event, click here for our calendar of events, or check out these links for more information about Nature Deficit Disorder.