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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

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Time Out!

This week, the cover story in Time Magazine is about kids being too wired -- connected to computers, instant messaging, cell phones, Ipods and more.

The article points out that: "Many educators and psychologists say parents need to actively ensure that their teenagers break free of compulsive engagement with screens and spend time in the physical company of human beings -- a growing challenge not just because technology offers such a handy alternative but because so many kids lead highly scheduled lives that leave little time for old-fashioned socializing and family meals. Indeed, many teenagers and college students say overcommitted schedules drive much of their multitasking."

We agree! Kids of all ages need to connect to real people and they especially need to take some time with nature. Families take heed. Read about it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Ozark Communities Plan Trail System to Fight Nature Deficit

Branson, Reed Springs, StoneBridge and Indian Point (MO) plan to develop an 82 mile trail system as a way to increase tourism and help local residents get out more.

One mayor in the area describes the need for the trails as: "we find more and more families looking for ways to 'unplug' their kids and get them back to nature. Now, there's a new term I've heard: nature-deficit disorder. It's hard for us to imagine when we live around nature, but some kids never see that. Any way you can help these kids connect with history and the outdoors, it's going to be a big plus."

Green Hour readers know that the "new term" the mayor describes comes from the work of Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. Importantly, these communities recognize how people without trails and outdoor opportunities can become disconnected from nature and that would be very bad. Read More!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


National Wildlife Week 2006 -- a Nationwide Green Hour

From April 22-30, we will be celebrating National Wildlife Week and we hope parents and kids everywhere will join in. National Wildlife Week offers opportunities to learn about nature, volunteer and go out and do wildlife observations. To learn more, check it out.


Internet Safety 101

We, at the National Wildlife Federation, want children to get outside into natural spaces more often and play. We call it a daily "green hour" because kids need such outdoor time to keep from becoming disconnected from nature from spending too much time on the internet and watching TV.

In the past few months, the Dateline NBC program has covered a series of disturbing incidents involving adult sexual predators pursuing children. The great irony of this is that most parents have a view that kids are not safe playing outdoors but are totally safe when on the computer. The basic rules for Internet Safety according to Marcy Zitz are:

* Never arrange a meeting with someone you have met online.

* Never give out your full name, address, phone number or other personal information.

* Tell you parents if you come across something that makes you feel uncomfortable.
*Keep the computer in a central location in your home.

*Never give out your passwords to anyone.

Read more from Marcy Zitz's Parenting and Family article on Family Internet.

Photo from NBC news.


For Exercise -- 60 Minutes is the Goal

Kids need a hour of exercise a day. They don't need real ot real intense exercise and can get it playing games or running around outdoors. Years ago, kids burned plenty of calories outdoors playing and just moving from one activity to the next.

Dr. Robert M. Malina, research professor and an expert in growth and development at Tarleton State University says, “our children are just not burning up those calories today," Dr. Malina says of the obesity epidemic in children. “All of us need to help children increase the amount of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity. The study is reported in “Physical Activity Recommendations for School-Age Youth” in The Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 146, Number 6 (June 2005). Read More!


Add Green Hours to Your Child's Lifespan

Parents take heed.

A study published recently in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity finds that almost 50% of U.S. children will be overweight by the end of the decade. Junk food, poor eating habits and lack of exercise are listed as the reasons. The lack of exercise seems to be coming from kids having an indoor, TV-dependent, video game-saturated lifestyle. Dr. Phillip Thomas of the International Obesity Task Force says "this is going to be the first generation that's going to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. It's like the plague is in town and no one is interested.”

The solution? get rid of "empty" calories such as from candy and fatty foods, and make sure our kids are more active -- say through a daily Green Hour! Read More!

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