Screens are ruling teens; kids spend well over forty hours per week in front of electronic screens, but less than forty minutes per week in nature.
A major component of growing up is learning to deal with long waits and unexpected delays, yet nearly everything is now available in an instant.
If we are going to prepare our kids for the best things in life, we need to teach them to wait and reward them for being patient. Kids need opportunities to practice patience that are followed by rewards for sticking with it to the end—whether it’s a 500-piece puzzle or a friendship with a neighbor that takes a long time to develop.
Once again, the push-button culture is working against kids. They are constantly given immediate, customized, positive feedback from their cell phones, iPods, video games, YouTube, and Facebook. These are places where they can hit pause, fast-forward, or reset any time they like with no consequences. But in real life, and especially in the natural world, there are no fast-forward or reset buttons. In order to experience a sunset, you have to watch for a while. A computer cannot simulate that experience.
The Need for Nature
Richard Louv, author of the best-selling book Last Child in the Woods, understands this problem more than anyone, and loves children enough to cry out for them, “Let the children play outdoors!”
His books and lectures have inspired a national movement that wants to leave no child inside. He encourages all families to embrace the nature that is in their local community. “For children,” he writes, “nature comes in many forms. A pet that lives and dies; a worn path through the woods; a fort nested in stinging nettles—whatever shape nature takes, it offers each child an older, larger world separate from parents. Nature offers healing for a child.”1
Louv explains how our children’s generation is suffering from what he calls “nature deficit disorder,” a preventable ailment of the body, mind, and soul. Kids just don’t go outdoors anymore. Read the rest of this entry »