Nature-deficit disorder is a term coined by author Richard Louv. In his book Last Child in the Woods, Louv identifies a constellation of negative consequences associated with the fact that today’s children—and adults—have limited direct experiences in nature. Children playing outside was once the norm, but today’s children spend much more of their free time indoors watching TV, playing video games, or otherwise engaged in sedentary forms of “packaged” entertainment. When they are outside, children are likely to be engaged in highly structured activities such as team sports. According to Louv and a growing number of other authorities, this “deficit” in children’s experiences can be linked to negative health and societal impacts, including obesity, ADHD, and lowered performance in school.
By contrast, playing in nature not only improves physical health, it reduces stress, sharpens concentration, and promotes creative problem-solving. When children are allowed opportunities to experience and explore the natural world, they are more likely to feel connected to their community and to develop a sense of stewardship for the Earth’s resources.
The Children & Nature Network
Richard Louv is the co-founder of The Children & Nature Network (C&NN). It was created to encourage and support the people and organizations working to reconnect children with nature. C&NN provides access to the latest news and research in the field and a peer-to-peer network of researchers and individuals, educators and organizations dedicated to children’s health and well-being.