Wild child: As we reflect on the past, we tend to ask ourselves what things have changed since I was a kid? Was nature deficit disorder even a thing 20 years ago? Fifty years ago? This "sickness" was coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book, "Last Child in the Woods." In his book, the disorder is described as an overall lack of time spent outdoors or immersed in nature and can be a contributing factor to many of the problems affecting everyone, as well as our children today, such as obesity, attention deficit disorder and depression.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation pointed out another contributing paradox on their website. While this generation of kids is more aware of the global threats to the environment than any generation before, their physical contact with nature is declining at an alarming rate. In a world full of screens and machines, our upcoming generation is able to access information about world issues, including environmental concerns, easier than ever before. Which in turn allows them to educate themselves about the world around them, without necessarily engaging in the physical world.
This current disconnect between humans and nature is setting itself up to have devastating and destructive consequences. In our current technology-filled world, U.S. Health Research found that kids are on average living an alarmingly inactive lifestyle. According to their studies, our children primarily recognize simulated satisfaction, are less sociable and overall less connected to the real world when connected to a screen.
As Richard Louv said, "Children in nature are an endangered species, but here's the good news: it's never too late to improve." Anyone can embrace all nature and the entire world around. Anywhere. It doesn't matter where you are, the act of stepping outside is beneficial no matter the landscape. Society gets so tied up in "the perfect vacation" or "the most beautiful hikes," and fail to get outside ... when the reality is all nature is enlightening when viewed with open eyes. Having regular, hands-on contact with the natural world inspires people to cultivate their sense of wonder. There's a lot at stake and just as much to gain from this behavior, in terms of both our daily lives, as well as our upcoming generation's physical and mental health. You are a simple Google search away from finding a group or program going on near you!