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Nature-deficit disorder explored

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Nature-deficit disorder explored

Old 07-13-2005, 09:26 PM
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Default Nature-deficit disorder explored


'Nature-deficit disorder' explored
By Colleen Long

NEW YORK — Lauren Showstead sends her boys outside nearly every day to play. In the summer, 5-year-old Justin and 3-year-old Brian collect bugs, pick up worms and explore nearby ponds and marshy areas. In the fall, they help rake the leaves, and in the winter, they're making snowmen and shooting down the luge track their dad made for them.
"Just the fresh air alone is so important for them. And it's great for their imagination. It's where they learn to be brothers and work together," Showstead says.
She and her husband are often outdoors with the kids, too, helping them build forts and learn about plants in the backyard of their Ridgefield, Conn., home.
The family might seem more like a throwback to an era before video games, the Internet and TV came to rule the recreation schedules of most families, but Showstead says they've just learned to balance high-tech toys and low-tech play time.
"There are times when they watch TV or use the PlayStation 2, but we just don't let it get out of hand," she says. "We're lucky, too, because our boys want to be outside. Not a lot of kids want to be outside anymore."
Doctors and teachers have been saying for years that children spend too much time indoors mesmerized by gadgets, or that parents are holding their children hostage inside for fear of kidnappers and other dangers.
Richard Louv argues in his new book that children are suffering from attention problems and higher rates of mental and physical illness because they aren't exposed to direct nature. In "Last Child in the Woods" (Algonquin Books), he calls the idea "nature-deficit disorder."
(He's quick to note, however, that he's not a medical doctor making an official diagnosis.)
"One boy I met said he wanted to play inside because that's where all the electrical outlets are," Louv says. "That seems to be how kids are thinking."
Louv, a journalist, has written several books on nature and parenting. He gathered anecdotal information to help back up his theory that nature helps children become more observant, calm and creative, though there aren't hard figures to back it up.
"There's a real sense of wonder that is lost when kids aren't exposed to nature," says Louv during a recent telephone interview from his home in San Diego. "Nature doesn't have to be Yosemite. It can be the empty lot nearby or the backyard. Any place where they can learn about their surroundings."
Children badly need the exercise, too.
An estimated 16 percent of U.S. children are obese, and 9 million children ages 6 to 16 are overweight, according to federal health officials.
Overweight children usually grow into overweight adults, at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and other disorders.
Organized sports are a help, but children need unstructured time to explore, Louv says.
Eve Edwards and her 9-year-old daughter, Sami, live in suburban Roslyn, N.Y., but Sami goes to sleepaway summer camp in Pennsylvania every summer for exposure to nonstop nature. "There are no distractions like TV. You have to be outside, you have to play. It's so old fashioned," says Edwards.
At home, though, it's easier for Sami and her friends to reach for their Game Boys for entertainment. "There's just more stuff now for kids to do inside," she says. "You have to spend your time convincing them to go outside, but all their friends are inside on the computer. It's rough."
Louv reports in his book that some suburbs make it illegal to have basketball hoops outside or to do chalk drawings on the sidewalk in the name of aesthetics. Other communities prohibit kids from playing in nearby ponds or fields.
Plus, parents feel their kids aren't safe outside, with Amber Alerts regularly making the national news and reports of scouts going missing in the woods.
"Our culture lives in fear. We feel it intensely," Louv says.
Time is another factor. Charlottesville, Va., pediatrician Martha Hellems says she sees patients in low-income households whose parents work long hours and don't have minutes, let alone hours, to chaperone the kids outside, and they can't afford to send the kids to camp.
But Louv encourages parents to consider the costs of keeping a child indoors all the time.
"I'm not suggesting we revert to the '50s when we let kids out to roam freely," he says. "We have to go outside with our kids and support programs that get our kids out there."

All but 7 states are losing more hunters than they are adding.
Missouri is leading the pact by ADDING 116 hunters for every 100 hunters lost. This growth is a positive sign for the future of Missouri hunting and having a strong economic benefit of jobs, manufacturing, services that go along with hunting.
It has also been found that kids that start hunting at a early age are more likely to hunt as adults.
It has also been found that young hunters that are supervised by adults are safer hunters.

In the national survey they also broke down the states in VERY RESTRICTIVE, SOMEWHAT RESTRICTIVE, LEAST RESTRICTIVE.
The VERY RESTRICTIVE states prohibit introducing youth at all or most hunting, particularly for big game, until age 12 or later. Also, in most cases, youngsters may not experience hunting until they’ve met hunter education requirements.
Of these states, 80 percent exhibit ratios lower than the national average.
The SOMEWHAT RESTRICTIVE states prohibit introducing youth to all or most hunting, particularly for big game, until they’ve met hunter education requirements.
Of these states, 43 percent exhibit ratios lower than the national average.
The LEAST RESTRICTIVE states permit introducing youth to hunting largely at their parents’ discretion. Kids are allowed to experience restricted hunting under supervision before meeting hunter education requirements. Missouri falls and leads in this category and for the following reason.
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION with it’s Youth spring turkey season weekend, Youth fall deer season weekend, Waterfowl youth hunting day and not to be left out a Free fishing days for all in early summer and if 15 years or younger don’t have to have a fishing license.
As long as the Missouri Department of Conservation method of funding is kept like it is, then numbers like these, and news like this, should keep coming.
It will make Missouri the economic center of hunting and fishing in the United States.
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Old 07-14-2005, 06:19 AM
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Default RE: Nature-deficit disorder explored

they've just learned to balance high-tech toys and low-tech play time.
Nice points and great post. The above quote sums up part of our approach towards raising our son. He gets his half hour in front of the tv or playing "Rescue Heroes" indoors but also spends at least four times as much time outdoors playing in the dirt, with bugs, etc... He loves every minute of it...and so do we.
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Old 07-14-2005, 09:54 AM
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Default RE: Nature-deficit disorder explored

So true! I have a 6 and a 2 year old, both boys. I was/am an outdoorsman and so will they be outdoorsman. I was into sports, played football and hockey and baseball in high school and football in college and men's softball now...but hunting is my passion and my boys will follow-suit. My Dad introduced me to the outdoors as a kid and already my 6 year old and I go on hikes all the time.

In fact, I hunt a special area about 10 miles from home. Each fall I take a few quality deer from that area. When we get a cold snap and decent snowfall, I take my kid, his plastic sled and we head to my hunting grounds. All bundled up, he sits in the sled and I drag him thru the woods. My purpose is twofold. First, to get him outside in the winter and get fresh air and teach him a few things like picking up deer tracks in the snow, etc. Second, it provides me with info on where the deer travel to and from so it's more useful info for my next season. Even just down the road we go hiking looking for turkeys, deer, turtles. It's fun and my son enjoys it very much.

Too many parents push their kids too hard with playing soccer, travel team soccer, county soccer, etc. I think that is too much. I let my son pick what he's interested in doing and he does it. In fact, we've had neighbors tell us that they see my son outside playing by himslef a lot and they notice how well he plays just by himself. He doesn't nee dplay-dates, etc. He just makes up his own game and plays and plays...OUTSIDE!
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