I came across a blog post from Quirks and Quarks, a popular Canadian science program, speaking of the benefits of outdoor play for children, and thought it relevant for sharing after my exploration of My Neighbour Totoro.
On the detrimental effects of being disconnected from nature:
“Statistics in the UK, which are similar to those from North America, show that children are spending twice as much time indoors as previous generations, usually sedentary, in front of television or computer screens. And this is having a negative effect on their health, leading to things ranging from obesity, through nutrition, to mental health problems.
And we can’t blame technology. Children are being held indoors more frequently by fearful parents who are less willing to allow their kids to run free in the woods, walk to school or even play in the local neighbourhood.”
On the benefits of unstructured outdoor play:
“The remarkable thing is that the cost of solving this problem in very low. All they need to do is be allowed to climb trees, chase each other up woodland trails, splash in creeks – in other words, play the way children naturally play with each other, not just in highly structured, overly competitive, adult-supervised, organized sport.
Studies have shown that children exposed to nature find more things to do, which makes them more physically fit and reduces attention deficit disorder. They learn to co-operate with each other when finding their way through a forest or crossing a stream. They naturally interact when one child discovers an interesting plant or bug, which is a great lesson in social skills.”
Have you read the Richard Louv book “Last Child in the Woods”? It’s great and talks a lot about nature defecit disorder.
Yes I have. In my post about Totoro, I mentioned that the movie immediately reminded me of Louv’s book and the importance of unstructured outdoor play for children. As an aside, I find it interesting that Louv actually doesn’t want the term NDD classified as a medical condition, because medicalising it means it’s something we can live with and can take a pill for. He wants it as a term to describe “the psychological, physical and cognitive costs of human alienation from nature, particularly for children in their vulnerable developing years.”
Thanks for reading!
This is the first time I’ve come across the term “nature deficit disorder,” a concept I’ve thought about but didn’t have a particular name for.
Glad to have introduced the term to you. It is a concept that’s gained a lot of traction in environmental education.
Great pictures on your site, by the way.
As a father of two sons…I’ve worried about NDD for some time now. It is hard to have an appreciation for nature if you never go out in it. I have heard that research on children is showing that unless parents do some prioritizing on what their children do…going outside is no more preferable than playing a video game which doesn’t bode well for all concerned.
Yes, I have heard similar things. It’s the unstructured, unpredictable nature of the play they engage in outdoors that is so beneficial. I talk a little about it in My Neighbour Totoro post under the Child’s Play: Nature as Nurture section.