Though not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, nature-deficit disorder is the thought that being disconnected from nature, especially as children, can cause a variety of behavioral problems. Though this has yet to be scientifically proven, Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods talks extensively about what he sees as our disconnect from nature and how it is effecting our children, and us as adults.
I can tell you for certain out a disconnect from nature and the movement that goes with it effects horses. Horses without connection to other horses and/or without room to be in nature develop habits such as cribbing (addictively sucking of air), chewing, stall weaving or walking, ear pinning, pawing. The list goes on. And as I think of this list, I can’t help but wonder, if it does that to horses, what the heck is it doing to us?
We are plugged into our phones and our computers constantly. We are inside our climate control houses. We are watching TV, listening to music, driving in our cars. I’m not saying these things are bad; I’m just wondering the cost.
Every day we see kids come to us at PBJ Connections who are literally addicted to technology. They get so angry when they can’t have their phones or video games. They lose functionality at school. They gain weight. They fight with their parents over “unplugging”.
All that said, Richard Louv makes some compelling cases for nature-deficit being a cause of some of this. We, as a culture, have higher anxiety, higher rates of depression, a great increase in ADHD and Autism over our predecessors. In his book, Louv gives us ideas about how to start swinging the pendulum back to a more nature-based society without living in the woods. He shows us how to think about changing our lifestyles and our communities just a little so that our children have more access to nature. It’s a good read.
I’ll leave you with this last thought. We now have people living in the city in “food deserts”. They literally don’t have access to fresh produce. Those families are filled with children who do not have a clue that lettuce comes from a plant that grows in the ground or that an apple grows on a tree. What will the consequences be if they never learn the truth about where their food comes from and how a plant grows?