As more families move into urban centers and out of rural and wilderness areas we see children that are starving for connection, meaning, and purpose.
To be clear, nature deficit disorder (NDD), as coined by Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods, is less of a formal medical diagnosis and more of a constellation of symptoms that arise when people are removed from nature. It defines the human cost of a separation from the natural world.
In our efforts to “civilize” modern life we have domesticated our children (& our medicine) and have created a cacophony of chronic illness. Here’s three things we know to be true about removing humanity from nature.
1) Humans become ill in the absence of nature
2) Children suffer more than adults
3) Nature deficit is a spectrum disorder
One of the biggest indicators of whether children will suffer from nature deficit is, of course, determined by how absent nature is in their lives. But their ‘condition’ becomes amplified when they’re saturated in technology, addicted to the indoor environment, and living over-scheduled lives.
On the individual level, a child may suffer from a lack of self-worth, have difficulty connecting to others, feel overwhelmed, and be deficient in wonder and awe. At a larger, public health scale we see a culture of sedentary children, poor physical and mental health outcomes, and a lack of appreciation and compassion for the natural world.
These unhealthy indicators are markers of a people that have lost their way. Above all the substantial prevalence of nature deficit disorder in children begs an all-important question: what would the world look like if we were immersed in nature as much as we are currently saturated in technology?
Nature deficit disorder forces us to realize we are at a crossroads. And which direction we head will determine the health and happiness of generations to come.
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