How Children’s Development is Affected by a Lack of Connection to Nature
For millennia, humans have been capable of developing in close touch with nature. It was not until the industrial revolution and the expanding of towns into large cities and extended working hours that humans began to lose this connection. In past decades, most adults have been, able to grow up with exposure to nature through outdoor play.
The common situation once was for children to complete their daytime school work or home tasks and hereafter head outside to play with their friends each day. Many adults remember the joy and that time where residential areas of varies types; parks, woods, playing fields and more were used for outdoor play and exploration.
Children Spending up to Eight Hours a Day Engaged With Technology
Technology, in its many forms, (apps, digital games, television, and Social Media) is considered to be a severe detriment to children becoming connected to nature. Great weight seems to be given to that children need just to unplug and go outdoors, and even that technology itself may have caused the indoor childhood problem because of its addictive nature, attractiveness and entertainment value.
According to Matthew Nevard, Research Executive, the UK organization, Childwise, in its 2015 Connected Kids report, children in 1995 spent an average of three hours a day in front of an electronic screen (mostly television) (Childwise, 2015). Two decades later, it has more than doubled to six and one-half hours a day, and a large part hereof is spent on smartphones, computers and Social Media.
This has been corroborated as being more or less the identical scenario in the USA through two reviews by using the Kaiser family foundation (2005 and 2010) that located that kids eight to 18 years old spent a complete of 6.3 and 7.5 hours per day, respectively, using electronic leisure media (Kaiser family foundation, 2010).
Most recent research state that that child today spent as many as eight daily hours engaged with electronic technology. The remaining time left being used for school, homework, organized activities (such as sports), meals and sleep. Their free time is spent on mobile phones, tablets, computers, Social Media and TV. We have come to refer to this new reality as the “Indoor Childhood Trend.”
Children’s lives today are full of games and movies, tv programming, texting, Social Media, and dozens of cellular apps which can entertain and even consume them, and these are mainly used indoors. Respectable scientists – doctors, mental fitness professionals, educationalists, sociologists – suggest that when children stop recreation activities in nature, it can have an effect on not just their development as individuals, but society as an entire.
Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.
Many who care about the future conservation and sustainability with our children and their families will learn how to “unplug” and put their e-tablets, smartphones, and apps aside to enjoy the richness and beauty of nature. However, others see this as unrealistic, given how much technology and the Internet is now infused in children’s and young peoples’ lives.
Richard Louv, writer and nature time advocate, describes this condition as nowadays kids having a “nature deficit.” Their lives are mainly in their homes, childcare centers, schools, gymnasiums, and vehicles. Outdoor time is limited to ball courts and other sports fields. They are primarily virtual and mostly devoid of natural vegetation green spaces, flowing streams, and the sounds of wildlife and wind through trees. A dramatically contrast with past times when children would spend their after-school time, weekends, and summers outdoors for seemingly endless hours.
Using Technology to Get Children Nature Motivated
The blame for the indoor child phenomenon is pointed to the computer and entertainment technology, however with the right software features and content, such technology –smartphones, e-tablets, laptops, and cameras –could actually help in reconnecting children, young people and their families to the natural world. Developing ways to harness digital technology and apps for worthwhile and life-changing real nature experiences, is essential at many levels. By spending more time in nature children and adults, they are likely to be physically healthier, better students, and more emotionally upbeat. Having a strong nature connection is vitally important to the future of conservation as well.
Outdoor Exercise is More Beneficial Than Indoor
Playing outside is an excellent way for children to live healthier and longer lives since outdoor play is associated with higher physical activity levels than playing indoors. Running, jumping, and climbing, whether in the backyard, a neighborhood playground, city park, or in natural areas strengthen children’s cardiovascular systems and major muscle groups, helping them grow trimmer and stronger and to be more fit over their lifetimes.
The effect of the right type of nature experience can be lifelong. In many cases, this involves repetitive, long-term nature activities but it can also be related to skills that more intensively immerse a young person in nature. In an essential long-range study of 2,000 adults, researchers Wells and Lekies found that childhood participation in nature activities (e.g., hiking, camping, or playing in the woods), had a significant, positive effect on both adult environmental attitudes and behaviors. People who participated in “wild” nature activities as children were more likely to have pro-environmental attitudes and behaviors as adults. They concluded that wild experiences as children are more likely to produce adults who have a lifelong commitment to nature conservation. Positive results were also seen from less wild activities such as planting flowers, but young people being more immersed in nature had the most excellent results. (Wells, et al., 2006).
Hiking and Camping
Hiking and camping are great ways for the family to unplug, be together and explore beautiful nature sceneries and get your children’s out in the Great Outdoors.
Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate Natural World, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.
About the Author
Finn is the Editor at FlashPortals.
He is an entrepreneur and business executive with more than 27 years’ experience in the Internet, software and property industries and twelfth years of expertise in director positions in tourism, including sustainable tourism destination development in Southeast Asia.
Since 1975, I have founded, led and invested in several Danish and international companies, developing and implementing large projects with multi-national corporations and governments. The Danish Government has invested in some of his companies and projects.
His Pan-Asian and Worldwide business networks are far-reaching.