I feel like its common sense: if you have a bad experience with nature as a child, you’re probably not going to be an environmentalist, or even have a strong ideology with nature. It’s like if you have bad sushi one night, it’s unlikely that you’re going to revisit that restaurant and order the same thing. The book talks about how psychologists know that children’s experiences with nature have great and crucial effects on their physical and emotional development, but how can this effect be positive when the growing society is becoming less and less environmentally centered?
Richard Louv calls the limited connections to the environment in present society “nature-deficit disorder”. Childhood today is much more structured with school, sports and activities and this leaves little time for children to simply go explore—no matter how big or small the adventure, it’s not a normal thing in society to just go roam and explore. Not only has the environmental norm for children changes in the past few decades but childhood experiences with nature are becoming indirect and felt through pixels rather than cells. Children 2-5 spend an average of 32 hours a week, that’s nearly 4.7 hours a day watching tv when they could be exploring or making positive connections with the environment that they live in.
Connections are now vicarious rather than direct. Children are learning about animals and such through zoos and aquariums, and personally I think that’s better than nothing. The exposure to wild animals through zoos is better than nothing. While the issue of humane treatment of animals, etc. comes into play, as a child it’s not something that you’re concerned about. When I was a child I rarely had vicarious experiences with nature, they were mostly direct. My father would take me fishing, my grandpa had a horse, my mom enjoyed hiking, I was a Girl Scout and I thoroughly enjoyed getting my hands dirty and working in the garden. My younger sister, age 9, has had a very different experience with nature. While she enjoys playing outside, that consists of riding hoverboards down the street and catching pokemon. These things get kids outside, but the connection with nature is lacking and its incredible to see how fast society is progressing and how nature is taking a back-burner to technology and media.
My sister and I are only 9 years apart but it may as well be a different era because she does not connect with nature the way that I do, and it’s not her fault—its no one’s fault. It’s just the way society continues to shape our lives and warp what is and isn’t important.