Thursday, July 21, 2005

Nature Deficit Disorder

Here is a book that talks about how children today do not get outside enough; that they are not in touch with the natural world anymore. He mentions video games and TV as part of the problem, but streeses in an interview with NPR that technology has it's uses as well. He states that, yes, technology helps kids gain a certian type of intellegence, but it only works few senses at a time, where as going outside uses all the senses together.

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Although I agree that most children do not get outside enough, I don't think he realizes just how many kids do get out. As I work in a natural setting, and see many families come through, I get to see the amount of joy and amazement on the faces of many kids and adults as they discover something new about nature. This could be through the displays around the setting, through the naturalist programs, or through talking to one of the staff.

I admit that most of the families I see are vacationing, but some are local families that come to visit often. I also admit that I have heard the occasional kid start complaining about lacking TV or video games. I will then give these kids our packet of activities and tell them to have a positive attitude towards it and they will have fun. It usually works. Usually.

What amazes me in this situation is the parents ask the kids if they will be all right without their precious technology. If you ask them that, of course they will say no and then they begin to believe that it's not okay to be without it. This gives the kids the believed power that they can start complaining if they are without what they want.

I also want to add that this shouldn't be about young kids either. As I am back in college, I am noticing the difference between "now" and "then." College kids these days are carring around an armory of small, high tech toys including cell phones, lap tops, ipods, other mp3 players, and portable videogames. As soon as they are up out of their chairs, they are plugged in, dialed up, or clicking away and not paying attention to whats going on around them. Sad.

Maybe this theroy of Nature Deficit Disorder is why many people are discovering Neopagan religions today. Most of us are so far gone from a true connection with nature that we long for something that ties us emotionally to nature.

Hmmm, maybe a possible dissertation topic for my PhD program.

Thanks to Legendary Surfers for the link to the NPR audio file.

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