No Child Left Inside

I have a pet peeve which involves pharmaceutical companies giving every minor aliment a name, and then marketing a drug to combat said new ailment. Disorder-this, syndrome-that; it seems all designed to play into people’s fears and desire for an easy fix. But there’s a new disorder that’s been tossed about lately, and this one I am buying into: Nature Deficit Disorder.

In the recently published book by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, the author explores the tremendous divide between children and the outdoors. Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of todayís “wired” generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression.

According to Louv, Americans are spending less time outside than ever before, and it’s contributing to a decreased understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. This increasing “nature deficit” is not only threatening America’s long-standing conservation ethic, but has resulted in alarming child health issues.

Studies show that when children have time for unstructured play and interaction with nature, they benefit immensely. It helps increase understanding of their connection to nature, in addition to improved physical, mental and emotional health. So here a disorder is created, and the solution isn’t pharmaceuticals, but simply to go outside and play. How elegant is that?

For some kids it’s easier than for others–they can throw open the back door and go look at tadpoles in the backyard pond. Many kids don’t have the most inspiring backyards, and many a city kid has to make a trek to the park to get some dirt and trees into their day. But no matter what the effort is, getting kids outside couldn’t be more important.

One stunning conclusion about this simple argument is that not only is it crucial for our kids’ health, but also for the health of our planet. An agreeable environment will depend on future generations of nature lovers, and the best way to ensure future conservationists is to get our kids outside and loving nature.

What can we do? Well, unplug our kids and get them making mud pies first of all. Check out our collection of family nature activities for any time of the year.

Also, you can urge Acting U.S. Surgeon General Steven Galson to promote the benefits of daily outdoor play in nature for all children and families by signing the Care2 Help Make Outdoor Time a National Priority petition. By increasing awareness about this possible epidemic of nature-evasive future generations, we not only help our future generations, but the longevity of a healthy planet as well.

By Melissa Breyer, Senior Editor, Care2 Green Living


Joe R.
Joe R6 years ago

Let's kick their fat butts outside - just like my mom did in the '50's. (Gotta get mine out there, too!)

Frederico D.


Charlene S.
Charla D7 years ago

I agree wholeheartedly that what children desperately need is some unstructured play time, free from electronic devices and , preferably outside. I'm living in a townhome at the moment and much to my pleasant surprise, some of the children in this community do play outside - riding bikes and scooters, playing games of imagination, and just running amok in general. The happy cacophony this creates is one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. It lifts my heart.

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Patricia B.
Patricia Bucio7 years ago


Marjorie Post
Marjorie Post7 years ago

I have been trying to convince my daughter and grandson of this fact for years! When I was a child, especially during summer vacation from school, my mother put us outside in the morning, we came in for lunch and back outside until called for dinner. There was no sitting in the house watching TV all day. Needless to say, we didn't have the distractions kids today computers, no cell phones to text on (we had to actually go out and see our friends), no DVD's, CDs, etc. These are not bad things; however, they are distracting kids from enjoying the pleasures of a childhood lived outdoors. So, I say, slap some sunscreen on them and throw them outside for some fresh air. I know it is not as safe today as it was in my day, but find a way to give your kids a childhood that is more memorable than sitting in their rooms all day attached to their electronics. They won't be sorry in their later years. I'm 64 years old and have some marvelous, beautiful memories of my childhood. I wish the same for the children of today.

Janine F.
Janine F7 years ago


johan l.
paul l7 years ago

If it is at all possible to play outside, kids should definitely do it.
In concrete jungles, as pointed out, it is not always so easy or safe.
We all know that there are an enormous number of gangs roaming the streets just looking for kids or grownups for that matter, they can harass, beat up and rob!
Kids haven't always got access to cars or parents to take them to parks.
The suggestions are all true and I can only urge every one to follow the advice if at all possible. Come on parents take the kids out, it is good for you as well!

sue w.
sue M8 years ago

Flag this guy, been posting all over Care2 the same stuff under different names.

Helen Peters
Helen Peters8 years ago

As a child the outdoors was for me and so it was for my children. Also im in my 50s and still go outdoors more than often. So it works for me i keep myself healthy.