“There’s nothing to do,” is the typical phrase used by children on weekends.  Their favorite TV show is over and they feel as if the world has stopped.  They may have just finished playing Halo 2 for the thirty-seventh time and still, they complain to their parents that there is nothing to do.

Then, of course, the typical response from any parent is a list of Saturday chores, which the children complain is too long and boring.  

Another suggestion that a parent may give his or her child is to go outside.  What a shock to think that there is life outside of their three- dimensional box with a roof over it.  “Oh, of course, the outdoors, where my neighbor‘s dog barks all day and the grass just grows.  Sounds fun!” 

Today, most children’s lives are intertwined with technology, and the idea of parting from this technological support system, even briefly, sounds impossible.  If they have to participate in nature, they’d rather do it with sweet three-dimensional graphics.  When learning about nature, the Internet has become their guide.  Sometimes when children do want to go outside, parents fear that their child will get kidnapped, or they might get hurt, such as falling from a tree.

Did you know: Many children in parts of the world don’t know the difference between a bee and a wasp?

I suppose most parents have told their children stories about going hiking, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities. The children may respond with a puzzled look, wondering the whole time how one could survive a whole week with no cell phone or I-pod.   Maybe it is these electronics that will affect the physical and emotional development of the child.

What is the problem here?

The answer is simple, it’s called, “Nature -Deficit Disorder.”  Okay, maybe not that simple, but what is it?  In a book entitled, Last Child in the Woods, written by Richard Louv, Nature-Deficit Disorder is described as the lack of nature in children’s lives.  Louv puts together remarkable studies that indicate that direct exposure to nature is essential for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development.

In one of Louv’s chapters, he interviewed fifth graders that attended Southwood Elementary School in Raytown, Missouri.  “One boy said computers were more important than nature, because computers are where the jobs are.”  Most students told Louv that they were too busy to go outside. 

One girl, who wanted to be a poet, expressed her opinion on the environment differently from the other children.  She said, “It’s so peaceful out there and the air smells so good.  For me, it’s completely different there.  It’s like you’re free when you go out there.  It’s your own time.”  Sadly, this young poet’s special part of the woods was cut down.  “It was like they cut down a part of me,” she said.

However, many people are realizing that simply going outside can often prevent ADHD and computer-game addiction. Some educational policies are going in that direction, such as, “Leave No Child Inside” program.

The Nation’s Health stated, “Last Child in the Woods, which describes a generation so plugged into electronic diversions that it has lost its connection to the natural world, is helping drive a movement quickly flourishing across the nation.”

What can we do?

Luckily it is not too late for all of us to benefit and learn from nature.  So, I recommend all of you to go outside and enjoy nature.  Climb a tree, jump in the leaves, lie in the grass, and collect rocks.   Take time to have it be a part of your lives. Enjoy what nature we have left, because there will come a time, where we won’t have that opportunity to do that anymore.  Turn off your phones and leave your computers.  Have a chance to feel that peaceful and loving feeling.  Go out into nature!!!

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