New Study: Children Who Spend More Time in Nature Are Healthier and Happier

Can you believe that children in Great Britain watch more than 17 hours of television per week? When you break that down, it averages over 2 hours a day, every single day of the year, comprising a minimum of 15% of their waking lives (assuming 8 hours of sleep per night).

Children and Technology

Then you take the social media consumption – Great Britian’s children spend over 20 hours per week on the internet, mostly using social media. By the age range of 11-15 British children spend over 50% of their waking lives in front of a screen, averaging 7.5 hours per day.

‘For a new generation, nature is more abstraction than reality.
Increasingly, nature is something to watch, to consume,
to wear – to ignore.’
Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods.

 

This obsessive screen time has resulted in staggering health ramifications including vitamin D deficiency, nearsightedness (I have this problem, and I think its from looking at screen so much in my adult life!), and a decline in their ability to engage in physical activities like push-ups or sit-ups. This has also resulted in an increase in problems with cardio-respiratory systems (heart and lung).

Research believe these issues are directly connected with a reduction in time spent outside. 

Children in Nature

In contrast, a 2009 study conducted by researches at the University of Essex concluded that children who were allowed to “free-range” and spend time in nature actually lived longer. Additionally, children who had a greater exposure to nature had reduced symptoms of ADHD by THREEFOLD.

children and technology

 

Childhood psychologist Aric Sigman calls this health/nature correlation the “Countryside effect”, and states that is is a considerable impact on one’s health. Not only are children who spend more time outside physically healthier, they scored higher on “concentration and self-discipline; improved their awareness, reasoning and observational skills; did better in reading, writing, maths, science and social studies; were better at working in teams; and showed improved behaviour overall.”

Do your children spend enough time in nature? 

There was definitely a time period where we because a very technology-centric family. I noticed we fought more, our children were constantly agitated and became frustrated over the simplest things. As we transitioned back to an outdoor-centric lifestyle, they began to “level out” emotionally and the mood in our home became incredibly more joyful.

We have found the combination of children and technology only works if it is in balance with time spent in nature!

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/27/children-spend-only-half-the-time-playing-outside-as-their-parents-did

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/apr/20/reconnect-children-with-nature

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/documents/read-our-natural-childhood-report.pdf

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/16/uk-children-not-connected-nature-rspb

 

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