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Research shows that unstructured play and interaction with the natural world are important for healthy development in children as well as the physical, mental, and emotional health of both children and adults. Time in nature provides opportunity for physical activity, critical and creative thinking, interaction with community members, and so much more.

Richard Louv coined the term nature deficit disorder to refer to the trend that children are spending less time outdoors, which can result in a wide range of behavioral problems. Louv claims that parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and increased screen time (e.g. computers, video games and television) are causing this phenomenon.

Time outside can help:

  • lower the risk of obesity
  • kids get a great night’s sleep*
  • improve academic success (i.e. GPA)
  • adequate production of vitamin D
  • encourage relationships between neighbors and strengthen communities
  • improve the ability to cope with everyday pressures
  • reduce aggressive behavior, including domestic violence
  • encourage creative and imaginary thinking
  • develop problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • reduce ADHD symptoms in children
  • boost concentration in adults
  • discourage crime
  • improve adolescent girls’ self-discipline (i.e. their ability to handle peer/sexual pressure; engage in less impulsive behavior; perform academically)
  • gross-motor development
  • children learn how to assess and manage risk
  • increase adolescents’ willingness to engage in conservation behaviors
  • prevent myopia

Basically, time in nature is necessary for healthy social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development. (Above taken from the Children & Nature Network’s Children’s Nature Deficit except * which is from Green Time for Sleep Time from the National Wildlife Federation.)

 

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