The national concern about children that are spending a lot more time indoors than they should have heightened to such extremes that it now has a name: Nature Deficit Disorder.
While naming this as a type of disorder may be rhetorical, it is very obvious that children spend a lot more time indoors when compared to outside. This particular shift is mainly caused by technology. The typical American child is estimated to spend around 4 to 7 minutes daily playing outdoors, and more than 7 hours daily in front of screens.
The increasing fears of parents about dangers and diseases linked to playing outdoors, despite evidence that proves otherwise, is another large factor.
And while the exurbs and suburbs continue to grow, nature has become even more parcelled off, and children appear to be less inclined or even willing to spend their time in fenced-in gardens, let alone even contemplate taking a walk in a nearby park or the woods, or jumping over a wall to visit a neighbour, or even visiting places like Wildwood Adventures. Rather, the indoor activities appear to be safer, easier (no sunscreen needed), and in some cases a lot more sociable, especially for children that already have their own social media accounts or participate in multiplayer video games.
Reasons to Go Outdoors
Many studies recently have shown the benefits and even the necessities of spending more time outside, for both adults and children. While it may not be clear exactly how the mood improvements and cognitive functioning occurs, there are still some things we already know about when it comes to explaining why nature happens to be great for the minds of children.
1. It Develops Confidence
The way in which children play when they are outdoors is far less structured when compared to many of the indoor play types. There are limitless ways in which to interact with environments outdoors, from a lake to a hiking trail, to a park, or a backyard and allowing your kids to make a decision on how they want to interact with their surroundings means you are giving them the responsibility to control their own actions.
2. It Promotes Imagination and Creativity
This play style that is usually unstructured also paves the way for children to interact in a meaningful way when it comes to their surroundings. They are able to think more clearly and freely, think up ideas for their own preferred activities, and to approach their surroundings in more inventive ways.
3. Spending Time Outdoors Teaches Responsibility
Living things will perish when they are not cared for in the correct way or mistreated. Entrusting kids to care for parts that are living in their surrounding environments offers the child a way to learn what will happen if they pull a plant out by the roots or they forget to water their flowers.
4. It Provides Stimulation That is Different
Nature may appear to be a lot less stimulating when compared to many video games of today, but the truth of the matter is that nature activates a lot more senses. Children are able to touch, feel, smell, and hear outdoor environments. Louv warns that as the younger generation spends less of their time in surroundings that are natural, their senses are narrowing. This lowers the richness and joys of many human experiences.
5. It Gets Kids Active
Many of the ways in which we interact with nature will involve far more exercise and activity than sitting indoors. It is not necessary to enrol your child into a soccer team, or a bike club, even a walk outdoors gets the blood pumping. Exercise is not only good for health but it helps with concentration and staying more focused, which is extremely advantageous for children with ADHD.
6. It Gets Children to Think
Louv states that nature is linked to a “sense of wonder” that is unique for children, that none of the other environments are able to provide. The typical phenomena which go on naturally in woods, parks, and even in our gardens, encourages children to start asking questions about our earth along with the amazing life that this world supports.
7. It Lowers Fatigue and Stress
The Attention Restoration Theory states that the environments that are urban require something known as directed attention, which will force us to disregard distractions which in turn exhausts the brain. When out in nature we naturally practice what is known as soft fascination which is an effortless form of attention which promotes feelings of joy and pleasure, and not stress and fatigue.
Despite the fact that screen time seems like a more popular and easier choice, it is essential to set aside enough time for playing outdoors.