The New Homo Sapien?


This front-page Washington Post story, subtitled "Many Adults Worry Nature is Disappearing From Children’s Lives," expands on our recent rantings about people not spending time outdoors.  I found it heart-breaking – like the finding that children ages 8 to 18 average 6.5 hours DAILY indoors using their electronics devices.  Looks like the new condition of humans as indoors and sedentary, fat, disconnected from nature and depressed, could turn out to be our species’ version of climate change.  We’re not just screwing up the environment; we’ve screwing ourselves up, too.

Lots of antidotes are being tried: some worthy educational programs by the National Wildlife Federation, free access to parks, buying outdoor toys and games, and hiking as a family.  But the article left out the most obvious antidote to both nature-deficit disorder and childhood obesity – growing food, dammit.  And growing big sunflowers, too, for the birds and just for fun.  You know, gardening.


  1. I read the article this morning also. Guess that’s an entree to plug our Garden-Based Learning program at Cornell. Our website has a lot of resources for educators who want to involve children and youth in gardening activities, with a focus on youth development and ownership:

  2. Garden in the Woods has a program with the Framingham school system to bring kids into the garden. Actually, not so much the garden, as the wild areas surrounding the garden – we get them looking at nature, bugs, wildlife, ponds, streams, and trees. I’m thinking next year I’d like to take the training to teach the children’s classes. This is just so important these days. But I fear that spending a few supervised hours in the garden is no substitute for a childhood of running around in woods.

  3. My neighbors at the nursery have gotten their kid interested in the outdoors. He comes home and rides his motor cross bike back and forth by the property line. He even put an extra loud muffler on his bike. Talking to his mother she said it keeps him outside and they can hear where he is. We worked out a deal where he now rides only after five p.m. It was only after a threat of filing a disturbing a peace complaint that they submitted. What’s really neat is the neighborhood kids all have motorcycles and now that’s its summer they ride all the time. One mother when approached about the noise said “you can’t do anything, it’s a private road.” She even said her neighbor complained about the noise but “she can’t do anything about it”. I wish these kids would go inside and play with nice quiet video games.

    Yes, we need to get the kids outside, but remember you idea of a nice quite outside time may not resonate with your neighbors. Along with getting the kids outside comes parental responsibility to teach about respecting other peoples outside time. Motorbikes where they don’t belong, loud music at the neighboring campsite, or skateboards on the sidewalk all involve outside activities where the kids never learned about respect for others.

    I agree that gardening is a great antidote. My 17 year old daughter has taken an interest in the vegetable garden at work. At first we had to make it part of her job, but soon she was taking pride in growing and eating the vegetables. Parents have to be firm when the kids start complaining about getting outside. Often parents don’t want to upset the kids by insisting that they get outside. We are raising kids that get their way whenever they want. Cry or fuss and you don’t have to do anything! Just stay inside since Mommy or Daddy doesn’t want a fussing kid ruining their outside time.

  4. Kids do what their parents do, and we have already established that the parents rarely go outside either (witness the abandonment of these “outdoor rooms”. It’s just too buggy/dirty/dangerous from wild critters/hot/cold/whatever. So what message are they sending to their kids??!

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