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August 2, 2007 |
Recently, I read a newspaper article that described a wired generation of young people who are out of touch with nature. If I recall correctly, a disease name was coined for them. These young ones suffered from "nature deficit disorder."
In thinking about this, I realized that we have neighbors with 2 children ... one in middle school and the other in elementary school. I never see these kids outside. I'm outside a lot ... gardening, mowing, walking our dog 4 miles a day, reading on the deck in the evening, etc. During all this time outside, I never see these kids or any other kids that live in our area. I only see other dog walkers, serious bikers (the spandex crowd) and serious runners ... none of them kids or teens. We live in almost a rural area. You live in a large city (not as big as Minneapolis but still big). What do you see happening i n St. Paul? Do you think "nature deficit disorder" might be a real problem now and in the future?
Eau Claire, WI
In St. Paul, Marilyn, I see a lot of empty parks and playgrounds, which seems to bear out your concern. I suppose that kids of working families are in some sort of day care, and that older kids spend a good deal of time online or playing video games, but I don't know about this first hand. My kid loves to be outdoors, shooting baskets in the driveway, swinging, and for three hours a day, or four if she can swing it, she loves to be in a big swimming pool with other kids, paddling around and jibber-jabbering with other little girls and showing off on the diving board. But she has a full-time mother who wouldn't allow her to camp indoors. My hunch is that parents have grown more paranoid over the years and don't feel easy about letting kids run free as you and I ran free when we were kids. I used to play in a wooded ravine with other boys going back to when I was six a nd seven and it was out of our parents' sight and, I think, out of mind too. My mother was worried about drowning and warned us not to go near the river, which we did all the time anyway, but with caution. I don't recall hearing stories about children being abducted or abused by marauding strangers, as we hear nowadays, stories that prey on people's minds and maybe make them over-protective. We can't lock them in a castle tower. Life without risk is not a healthy life.