Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Technology, Nature, Kids, Parenting, and the Intersections Thereof

I am just starting to read through "Last Child In The Woods" by Richard Louv. I have had it on my list for quite some time. Without having read it yet I can say that the concept of "Nature Deficit Disorder" is very intriguing.

I grew up outside. Not only growing up going to summer camp, but in my parents' backyard building forts, making bow and arrows out of shrubs, getting covered in grass stains from tackle football, I even remember discussing with a friend that we could probably build our own refrigerator in our fort. Not that I turned out as the perfect model human being, but I can't imagine a childhood without that.

If I was inside, I was building forts, racing matchbox cars down the stairs on a board taken from my bookshelf, or playing hide and seek. And, when that got to be too much for my mom; outside I went.

"Screen time" as it is called now, was non-existent almost. A cartoon here and there, but computers, iPads, iPhones, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu; non of that existed.

My daughter, who is 5, and in preschool, has a chart on our fridge right now that encourages 30 minutes of exercise a day (outside preferably), 2 vegetables and 2 fruits, and then bonus, if she goes without "screen time" she can color that day on the calendar green. What a great homework assignment! An easy one for us as we live at camp, and the outdoors are a daily activity. But still even for my wife and I, who are late adaptors and a bit resistant to T.V. and iPad babysitting, we are (we'd like to think) pretty normal and will put on a movie for a few minutes on a regular weekday before story-time.

Raising children is a challenge. Raising healthy kids is perhaps an even bigger challenge. But, it is certainly an important challenge to be thinking about, talking about, striving for. Richard Louv discusses the health of children and the benefit of nature in his book, but I also recently came across a great little interview that he recently did with MindFood.

In it he said many great things. As a parent, just doing the best I know how, I appreciated this:
"It can be hard to move children away from the television and computer.  It’s hard for adults as well. It’s hard for me. There may even be symptoms of withdrawal from media. The antidote to that is not to go back to nature, but to go forward to nature. Doing that is not anti-urban and not anti-technology. Let the children know this is multitasking, to live simultaneously in both the digital and the physical world, using computers to maximize our powers to process intellectual data, and natural environments to ignite all of our senses and accelerate our ability to learn and to feel."
Check out the full interview here.
Share your thoughts in a comment. We'd love to hear what your experience has been with technology, nature, kids, parenting, and any intersections thereof.

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