A Lost Experience: Kids in Nature
By Emily Davidson and Melissa Moran
What did you do for fun as a child? Climbed trees, chased fireflies, fished? How about rode bikes, played outdoors with neighborhood friends, or went to a nearby park for a pickup game or sport?
Ask today’s youth what they do for fun, and the answer is quite different. The current generation of young people are playing video games, sending texts, and posting on social media. Some are passionate about a sport, to which they may dedicate numerous hours each week. Most of these activities are done indoors.
The risk of nearsightedness is reduced when children play outside more
Many kids stay inside because of the weather or from fear of a mosquito, spider or snake, or (insert the name of your most dreaded creature).
The outdoor and nature-based activities of prior generations provided adventure, fun, and entertainment for youth. Like the dinosaurs, are outdoor activities becoming extinct?
Scientists are studying nature’s effects on people and measuring some of the amazing things that we may have experienced or know intuitively. Being in nature helps adults reduce hypertension and depression. Kids who live on a farm and are exposed to soil and domestic animals are less likely to have asthma than urban children. The risk of nearsightedness is reduced when children play outside more. Playing in gardens or natural areas contributes positively to learning and development, aiding cooperation skills, and reducing conflict among children.
Connecting to nature helps improve the health and well-being of children, their families, and their communities.
We at The Nature Conservancy want to encourage childhood time exploring nature and to avoid the possibility that time in nature could become an “extinct” childhood experience.
Will you join us in this endeavor? Will you take your children, your grandchildren, and their children outside? It’s up to us who understand and appreciate the benefits of nature to a child, we are their only hope.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Emily Davidson is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Indiana Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, a global organization that is committed to protecting natural areas.
Melissa Moran is the Director of Community Programs for the Indiana Chapter. Both she and Emily reach out to communities across Indiana to encourage outdoor play and to reconnect children to nature through the Children of Indiana Nature Park.