Nature Deficit Disorder

I spent the first 14 years of my life on a small farm in Saskatchewan’s Boreal Transition Ecoregion. Our nearest neighbours lived more than a mile away, and we didn’t have a TV.  What we did have a lot of was nature, since more than half of our farm had never been cleared for agriculture.  A lot of my childhood was spent with my nose in a book, but I also spent a lot of time out in the “bush”.

It concerns me that my children haven’t had the same oppotunities to connect with Creation that I did as a child.

Given that concern, this news article caught my eye…

Kids face ‘nature deficit disorder’ given trend toward staying indoors: experts


TORONTO (CP) – The “vague and powerful fears” parents harbour about giving their children free reign to frolic outdoors means a whole generation of young ones are facing a “nature deficit disorder,” say experts and observers.

“The whole notion of free, unorganized play is going by the wayside,” said Joe Doiron, senior policy analyst with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s healthy living unit.

There is a “disturbing trend” that shows children are involved in mostly indoor organized activities, Doiron said. 

“What this trend suggests is that we’re ignoring opportunities for our kids to be involved in unorganized, free play,” he said.

Nathan Perkins, an associate professor at the University of Guelph, said the need for structure in people’s lives is making nature an increasingly “programmed experience.”


Read the entire article here.  I think it raises some very important issues about a generation of kids who are out of touch with Creation.

3 Responses to “Nature Deficit Disorder”

  1. Marc says:

    I don’t want my kids to get NDD, but what are we to do in the city? Are my fears about letting my children wander the neighbourhood unfounded (traffic, predators, getting lost, etc)? We fear to much, perhaps, but it seems to me that it’s a different world now then it was even just when I was a child. Or perhaps that’s an illusion.

    I remember summers as a child in a small prairie town in southern Saskatchewan. I’d have breakfast and head out the door—I’d spend the morning wandering the streets and fields surrounding town. Home for lunch and back out. I’d shout “I’m going out!” and I’d be gone. My parents wouldn’t have a clue where I was in town, but it was OK.

    I wonder if small towns are still like that.

  2. janet says:

    I agree, Marc, with what you say about the increased fears from the “outside world” today. It IS a different place than the one we were raised in. And it is sad.

    Having said that, I have always liked the idea of ‘free unorganized play’. Rain or shine. I think the trick is to give kids the (safe) places and the time to do just that.

    When our kids were younger and when it was obvious that they needed to have some outside time, I’d just tell them to get outside and find something to do. Their response quite often would be: “but there’s nothing to do outside”.
    Being that going outside was the non-negotiable, I’d remind them to FIND something to do they’d find it, eventually.

    Today they might not be too quick to go frolic in the great (backyard) outdoors but when they HAVE to go they always find something creative to do … like shooting movies from the rooftops to put on YouTube …

  3. Sharon says:

    I read the same article and I totally agree. Children today are so organized and scheduled in so many things, they do not have time to get bored but they are probably worn out!!! How I love seeing children using their imagination in the big outdoors…..playing or maybe just lying on their back studying the cloud formations and imagining what they can see. When my grandchildren come over, I give them pails and shovels and they have so much fun finding earthworm families or stones or ladybugs. So many interesting things in our beautiful world.