Mr. Sarbanes, a father of three, said spending time outside is “absolutely critical” to the intellectual, emotional and physical health of children, as well as their self-esteem and sense of responsibility. “If we get our kids out into nature, it's going to be good for them.”Read more here.
If you haven't already read the book “Last Child in the Woods,” I heartily recommend it. The author, Richard Louv, coins a term “nature-deficit disorder,” which he goes to great lengths to make clear is not an official diagnosis.
But he does argue that children are shortchanged when they don't have a chance to play outside and discover nature firsthand. Teachers and environmentalists have known this for quite some time.
From one review of the book:
... a 2002 British study reported that eight-year-olds could identify Pokémon characters far more easily than they could name “otter, beetle, and oak tree.”
“I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are,” reports a fourth grader. But it’s not only computers, television, and video games that are keeping kids inside. It’s also their parents’ fears of traffic, strangers, Lyme disease, and West Nile virus; their schools’ emphasis on more and more homework; their structured schedules; and their lack of access to natural areas. Local governments, neighborhood associations, and even organizations devoted to the outdoors are placing legal and regulatory constraints on many wild spaces, sometimes making natural play a crime.
In “Last Child in the Woods,” Louv talks with parents, children, teachers, scientists, religious leaders, child-development researchers, and environmentalists who recognize the threat and offer solutions. Louv shows us an alternative future, one in which parents help their kids experience the natural world more deeply—and find the joy of family connectedness in the process.