Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nature Deficit Disorder

Miranda Anderson- filmmaker
I recently was sent the link to another story about "nature deficit disorder" (NDD).  Many of you are familiar with Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods.   If not, you can at least understand the disconnect that modern society has with nature.  The more "connected" you are with society and city life, the harder it is to get out in nature.  It is doubly so for children, raised in the world of TV, video games, cell phones and computers.

This is Miranda Anderson who is pictured above.  Her first introduction to nature deficit disorder came as a 9 year old when she was talking with a childhood role model, Ruth Foster, who had read Richard Louv's book.  Three years later Miranda heard Mr. Louv in person.  This led her to make this very professional video, The Child in Nature.  The educational and inspirational video and story are at childrenandnature.org. 

We tend to blame our electronic world as the cause of NDD but that is only a small part of the story.  Kids have an additional barrier, especially in an urban setting- lack of transportation.  Unless parents motivate and transport their kids to nature and show an interest, video games will rule.  It doesn't take a lot.  Here are a few easy steps.
  • Head outside with the family.  Parks are great but even turning over rocks and logs in the backyard can dig out treasures.  Find a bug and look it up.  Check out the leaves on a tree.
  • Hiking and biking trails are great exercise but don't forget to stop along the way and connect to the dirt and plants.  As Miranda says, organized sports don't count as time in nature.
  • Computer time isn't bad in itself.  Just like an occasional French fry, the problem is balance and avoiding excess.  Looking up and learning about what you found outside is the next step.  Maybe even making a video for school.  But like Miranda, you have to leave the keyboard and get back outside.
Patty and Miranda Anderson
As talented as she is, Miranda didn't do this by herself.  She had parents who took the time to take her to Vancouver to hear Richard Louv.  Much more importantly, they allowed and even encouraged her to be out in nature starting early in her childhood.

Take a kid outside soon.  And often.  Show them a bug, let them catch a crawdad, and the rest will start to happen.  Oh, and cut down your energy use...turn off the TV more often.

That link again is childrenandnature.org.

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