Nature Deficit Disorder in British children

Children today are not experiencing the great outdoors to the same degree as generations before them. According to a new report from the National Trust, relationships between kids and nature is suffering a dramatic decline, the effects of which will be felt for a long time.

Carried out by author and television reporter Stephen Moss, the Natural Childhood study described this decline as "overwhelming" and called for action on the matter to be taken sooner rather than later.

There are a number of factors contributing to this trend, such as parental anxieties about their little ones heading outside, rising traffic levels and the insistence of young people to play video games.

Mr Moss noted moves to correct these attitudes need to take place while there is still a generation of mums, dads and grandparents with experience of enjoying the wonders of the natural world.

He stated: "We all know the benefits being outdoors can bring and as parents we want our children to spend more time outdoors than they do."

Chartered Psychologist Elie Godsi comments:

"Obviously the term 'Nature Deficit Disorder' is intended to be a neat phrase to capture the public and media's attention rather than something to be considered as a genuine clinical condition.

"Yet despite this there is a growing body of evidence that indicates that children's physical, emotional and social development is hampered by the increasing restrictions on their ability to explore the world around them and to process their discoveries on their own without adult supervision.

"Parents are rightly concerned about children's safety although some of this is driven more by myth than fact: paedophilia is often cited as a reason to keep children at home yet statistically we know they are far more likely to be harmed indoors by people who know them. On the other hand, levels of traffic have increased markedly and has contributed to the limited range that current children are now allowed to wander unsupervised.

"There is no doubt, however, that exploring and connecting to the natural environment is essential to children's development and not simply because this removes them from excessive exposure to the sedentary world of television viewing and computer games: establishing a relationship with the natural world not only reconnects all of us to our place within nature but also helps us understand the nature that is within us all."