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A Simple Prescription

In our fast-paced, digitally-enhanced lives, perhaps we’ve lost sight of a much simpler tool for success that comes to our children naturally and brings cognitive, social, and emotional benefits that extend beyond the classroom. This timely reminder from pediatricians that one of the most powerful ways to help our children learn and thrive is to simply give them the freedom to play—with us, their peers, and on their own—is certainly one that parents, caregivers, and child educators should heed. 

Co-founder and author Richard Louv introduced the term “Nature-Deficit Disorder” in 2005 with the publication of his best-selling book, “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder.” He coined the phrase to serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from nature and it is not meant to be a medical diagnosis (although perhaps it should be).

Our kids are actually doing what we told them to do when they sit in front of that TV all day or in front of that computer game all day. The society is telling kids unconsciously that nature's in the past. It really doesn't count anymore, that the future is in electronics, and besides, the bogeyman is in the woods.

Louv, the author of the bestsellers Last Child in the Woods (2005) and The Nature Principle (2011), coined the term "nature-deficit disorder" to describe the loss of connection children increasingly feel with the natural world. Nature-deficit disorder is not a clinically recognized condition, he explains, but rather a term to evoke a loss of communion with other living things. Nevertheless, he argues, nature-deficit disorder affects "health, spiritual well-being, and many other areas, including [people's] ability to feel ultimately alive." (See "The Nature-Deficit Disorder and How It Is Impacting Our Natural World.")

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