Nature deficit disorder is a recent term and refers to the trend of modern day children to remain confined to the four walls of their homes. As a result of this non exposure to nature, they develop certain problems mostly related to behavior, which were not generally found in children of older times who used to play around in the fields, parks and at other places in the lap of nature. In some extreme cases this nature deficit results in mental disorder in the long term.
The main reasons for this problem are basically dwindling areas under nature and replacement of natural forests with concrete jungles. In metro areas the size of the houses are decreasing day by day. Due to high cost of land, homes are moving upwards in multi-storeyed buildings leaving almost negligible space for green belts. However in suburban areas of the metros, things are slightly better. Children born and brought up in these areas get negligible exposure to nature.
Even in suburban areas and the children living in small towns, there is a great pressure of studies. Parents demand that the child should excel in class resulting in pressure on the child. With entry of TV and computer in each home, the child gets glued to these modern day gadgets during the free time available and not being utilised in studies. As a result of this, even these children do not get exposed to nature to the extent required.
In some metros where the crime situation is not normal, out of fear, to keep the child safe and away from danger, parents try to keep the children indoors. The children then spend more time on the computer, surfing the net and watching TV. In case the child is unattended, the chances are that he will start watching undesirable contents available on the net.
The effect of this is multi fold on the children.
- The child loses respect for nature as is desired from citizens. This has resulted in deterioration not only of the health of the humans but also of the health of earth. As per study, this could result in a shorter life span of the current unexposed generation as compared to the life span of parents.
- The chances of the children developing attention disorder and depression may increase. Due to non availability of opportunities of relaxation in the natural manner, the child develops tension and consequent illness. As per study exposure to nature after school hours on weekends does result in reduction of anxiety and tension in the minds of any individual and reduces attention deficit symptoms in children.
- If the child develops ADD or mood disorder, the child is not likely to concentrate fully on studies and will get lower grades. Schools which have outdoor activities as a part of their curriculum have brighter students with better results.
- The increasing incidents of obesity in children can also be attributed to non exposure to nature and lack of exercise. Children do not get exercise and due to changing food habits they get more attracted to junk food, resulting in overweight children.
Thus it is necessary that the child should get exposed to nature to the extent possible. There are parks in each city or town. If not possible to take the child on a daily basis, the parents should ensure to spend the day out at least on weekends to enable the child to be exposed to nature. Schools also have a duty to ensure that the children should get exposed to nature on a regular basis. They should organise short school trips for this purpose.