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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

Monday, August 08, 2005


Green, Healthy and Safe

So How About Safety Outdoors vs. Safety On-line?

There are many reasons children need to spend more time outside and get away from an average of six hours a day in front of electronic screens. In his outstanding book, "Last Child in the Woods" author Richard Louv notes that parents are often nervous about their kids being outside and maybe falling and getting hurt or becoming prey to child molesters. We agree that a child has a greater chance for a skinned knee outdoors than sitting at a computer. And, national television news has recently been full of tragic and alarming stories of sexual predators. So, while we might not recommend the kind of extensive hours of outdoors "free-ranging" that many older adults engaged in as children, we think it is still important for parents to let their kids get outside in nature an average of an hour per day.

First, there are actually fewer instances of child predation than there were years ago. This is one crime rate that has gone down. Secondly the Internet is a vastly greater threat. It exposes one in five children to direct communication with a sexual predator and offers tens of thousands of such predators the opportunity to lurk on the Web and communicate freely with one another and the kids of their choice.

There are many safe outside places close to home starting with the backyard and kids mostly play in groups and pairs when outdoors rather than in isolation at the computer screen. To learn more about online safety pitfalls, see:

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