« Energy News That's Fit to Print | Main | Charming 3-bedroom, 2 bath with only 5 pounds of weight gain a year »

September 14, 2005

Read This Outdoors

Cover Is it possible that today's children suffer from Nature-Deficit Disorder?

At least in our imaginations children and nature are as inseparable at Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Kids seem born to run through the woods, fish, build forts, and explore their natural surroundings. But according to a new and, I think, rather intriguing theory, children are increasingly constrained by sanitized and regimented activities that alienate them from nature. The result may be worsening psychological problems for kids and may help explain the pervasiveness of that bogeyman of contemporary child development, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

I have no idea whether there's any empirical merit to the case, but a new book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, argues that children are more estranged from nature today than ever before. And because contact with the natural world can be a powerful remedy for ADHD, children's alienation from nature may be contributing to the prevalence of ADHD.

I won't blather on further now (I haven't read the book), but it is worth pointing out a good book review in Orion Online that explains Louv's reasoning and offers a glimpse of his research context. Seriously, it's fascinating. If that's not enough, read an interview with the author at Salon.com (free access if you watch a short ad).

Posted by Eric de Place | Permalink

Comments

> I have no idea whether there's any empirical merit to the case, but a new book, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, argues that children are more estranged from nature today than ever before. <


Ah, but there is empirical evidence for this case:

Whitehouse, S. Varni, J.W., Seid, M. , Cooper-Marcus, C., Ensberg, M.J., Jacobs, J.R., Mehlenbeck, R.S. 2001. Evaluating a children's hospital garden environment: utilization and consumer satisfaction. Journal of Environmental Psychology 21 pp. 301-314.

Wells, N.M., Evans, G.W. 2003. Nearby Nature: A Buffer of Life Stress among Rural Children Environment & Behavior 35:3 pp. 311-330.

Taylor, A.F., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. 2002. Views of nature and self-discipline: Evidence from inner city children. Journal of Environmental Psychology 22 pp. 49-63.

Shibata, S., Suzuki, N. 2002. Effects of the foliage plant on task performance and mood. Journal of Environmental Psychology 22 pp. 265-272.

Wells, N.M. 2000. At home with nature: effects of "greenness" on children's cognitive functioning. Environment & Behavior 32:6 pp. 775–795.

Taylor, A.F., A. Wiley, F.E. Kuo, and W.C. Sullivan. 1998. Growing up in the inner city: Green spaces as places to grow. Environment & Behavior 30:1 3-27.

Taylor, A.F., F.E. Kuo, and W.C. Sullivan. 2001. Coping with ADD: The surprising connection to green play settings. Environment & Behavior 33:1 pp. 54-77.

Grahn, P., Martensson, F., Lindblad, B., Nilsson, P., Ekman, A. (1997). Ute pa dagis [Outdoors at daycare]. Stad och Land [City and Country], No. 145. Hässleholm, Sweden: Norra Skane Offset. IN: Wells, N.M. 2000. At home with nature: effects of "greenness" on children's cognitive functioning. Environment & Behavior 32:6 pp. 775–795.

========================

My work is predicated on this case being true, and I'm striving to create nearby nature in cities as an introduction to nature, in hopes to build an appreciation (and thus preserve some).

Posted by: Dan Staley | Sep 14, 2005 3:41:36 PM