By: Brittany Czarnecki
It is no secret that over the years people have lost touch with nature, some may no longer feel that connection or desire to be in nature. Environmental disconnect is that lost connection, the increased use of computers and other electronics has enticed us so much that it is no longer common for kids to play outside. This was confirmed in a study by The Nature of Americans National Report which found that more than 1/2 of adults in the U.S. reported spending less than five hours per week in nature. The same study also found that kids between the ages of 8 and 12 spend three times as many hours on computers each week than they do playing outside.
I can’t help but think back to when I was growing up, my brothers and I were constantly outside playing, we had freedom to explore the nearby woods. We saw deer running through the trees, we could hear all the noises of the forest and smell the different trees that surrounded us. There are physical and psychological benefits of being outside and I believe it greatly effects how kids grow up and how they treat their environment. An article written by Harvard Medical School lists some of these benefits of being in nature, the first being that people will absorb more vitamin D just from being outside. A psychological benefit is that people seem happier overall when they have spent some time outdoors, you feel more relaxed. Researchers from the University of Essex in England say that just five minutes of “green exercise” resulted in an improvement of self- esteem and an overall better mood. Green exercise is just how it sounds, it’s working out in nature rather than a gym, this can be something a simple as going for a walk in the woods or perhaps a hike up a mountain. If hiking up a mountain is not your style you can still get in your “green exercise” by just taking a walk around your neighborhood. Or perhaps if your neighborhood is not very green, doesn’t have many trees you can drive to one that does and just go for a nice quiet walk. This is a great way to get your kids to start spending more time outdoors, take them on the walk with you and next time maybe go into the woods, I guarantee the first time a kid sees a deer cross their path they will be excited about the outdoors. Nature may also have the power to heal you faster from injuries or even and illness such as the common cold.
People take nature for granted and do not fully understand the benefits it can have on not only their life, but their children’s life as well. I was lucky enough to grow up in a time when cell phones were new and kids did not rely on electronics to entertain them. Sure we had Nintendo and Xbox, but those were saved for rainy days spent inside. We had the woods around my neighborhood where a fallen tree became a fortress, a stick became a sword and a babbling brook was a raging river
that we must cross to save our kingdom! I believe that parents these days play an important role in exposing their kids to “green” time rather than screen time. Parents should be encouraging their kids to play outside especially when the parents grew up in a time similar to mine where the outdoors meant freedom of imagination and exploring. No matter how advanced technology becomes in the near future, I believe that people like myself will teach their kids the value, benefits and wonder that comes from being outside. All in the hopes that they will pass those ideas down to their kids so that this connection that we have lives on through generations to come.