About ten years ago a new type of deficiency was uncovered related to children and the outdoors, Nature Deficit-Disorder. The idea is that lack of outside ‘unstructured play’ (not an organized sport) can harm kids’ physical and mental development.
As our urban areas boom (Austin’s a great example), we get farther and farther from nature. Trees, grass, parks are few and far in between. Between school, work, afterschool activities and homework, well, it’s simply not in the daily routine.
Although not an official disorder, there is some agreement among health professionals about the negative effects that lack of nature might cause…depression, obesity, lower grades in school to name a few.
Journalist Richard Louv and author of The Nature Principle, discussed Nature Deficit-Disorder with the National Geographic magazine team this summer. “I think the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need as a balancing agent,” said Louv.
What can we do? The recommendation is simple…turn off the gadgets and spend some time enjoying nature. A walk along Town Lake, a hike on the Greenbelt, day at Zilker Park or swim at Barton Springs can do wonders.