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NWF Green Hour

Commentary on what parents should know about and can do to counteract common "nature deficit disorders" in our TV-watching, video game-playing children including encouraging a daily "Green Hour" of outside play and learning. A program of the National Wildlife Federation

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Dear Reader,

It won't surprise any parent or other adult who cares for children to hear that the average child now spends some 44 hours per week (roughly six hours a day) staring at electronic screens -- whether TV, video games, computers or cells. We can see our kids getting more obese, more passive and showing a wide range of mind-numbing effects from life in the virtual world. The days are gone when children played outside for hours each day. Importantly, today's children have no idea what goes on in the natural world around them. They are the first generation to be effectively cut off from nature.

Author and futurist Richard Louv has just written a compelling book, entitled Last Child in the Woods, and concludes that today's children are suffering from a kind of "nature deficit disorder." Its disturbing effects include: weaker physical strength and immune systems, emotional stress and a lack of caring of about nature that could alter the way that future generations relate to and ultimately care for nature, wildlife and the environment.

At the National Wildlife Federation, we recognize that a complete reversal of this trend is unlikely. So, we are starting a practical campaign that will encourage parents and other caregivers to make sure their children are spending about an hour a day outside. We are calling it the Green Hour.

In the coming days we will present information and ideas on "nature deficit" and its long term effects on kids and how a Green Hour program can help. Importantly, we will describe many things parents and other adults can do to help kids get out more and connect to nature and to themselves.

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