Get Outside--Preventing Nature-Deficit Disorder in Children
Although it is not recognized in medical manuals, I believe that many children are suffering from what Richard Louv coined as Nature-Deficit Disorder in his book, Last Child in the Woods. Today, children are spending less time outside and more and more time connected to video games and computer devices. We live in a culture where every day we consume an enormous quantity of media. I use the word consume, as the videos, TV, games, movies, and other forms of electronic media we take in affect our physical health, as well as our thinking.
So, how can you respond to this change in culture and ensure balanced use of media for your children, without pulling them kicking and screaming from their x-box?
• Think of video games akin to candy—have boundaries around when and where media consumption is appropriate. Many parents limit the amount of TV or video play in the same way they might monitor sugar intake. Kids are allowed to have a certain amount after they do other things like play outside or do their homework.
• Schedule time outside—set up play dates with friends at local parks that are fun and involve social interaction and exercise.
• Consider signing your children up for team sports—many young boys and girls I know, who love playing video games, feel even more excitement when hitting a home run at their little league game than when beating their best DS score.
• Be a good role model of media consumption—Are you on your computer or phone for a large percentage of the time? You might consider taking a day as a family and “unplugging” from all electronic devices on a regular basis.
• Set up ground rules early on and be consistent in following them—video games and other forms of electronic media are a part of life. Having healthy boundaries with ourselves and our children can go a long way.
• Expose your children—and yourself—to new creative endeavors. Take a ceramics class. Try painting or crafting. Mix it up and enjoy discovering new things together.
• Get outside and play. “Catch anyone?”
Visit Inner Radiance Blog again soon for helpful articles, tips on relationships, poetry, inspiration, and insight. Author Elizabeth Rightor, MA, MEd, is a family therapist in private practice who specializes in working with couples and women suffering from anxiety. You can find more about her and her work at http://elizabethrightor.com/welcome.html