What Is Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)?

Nature deficit disorder

The negative effects of a life removed from nature.

“A lack of routine contact with nature may result in stunted academic and developmental growth. This unwanted side-effect of the electronic age is called Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD). The term was coined by author Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods” in order to explain how our societal disconnect with nature is affecting today’s children (and adults). Some of the symptoms of NDD include attention problems, obesity, anxiety, depression, fear of the natural world and disregard for life.” ~


NDD in kids

NDD in kids

Some of the leading causes of NDD:

  • TV, computers and video games

  • Loss of freedom to play outdoors

  • Parents’ fear of stranger danger

  • Fear and dislike of the natural world; discomfort outdoors

  • Disconnection from where food comes from                             

  • Loss of access to nature

  • No longer living off the land

  • No unstructured playtime outdoors

  • Entertainment comes from media, not imagination and outside play

NDD Statistics & effects in Urban areas

  • 88% of children use computers daily

  • Youth avg 8 hours daily on electronic media, teens up to 12 hrs – they take cell phones & games to bed with them.

  • 9 million youth are overweight, and rising

  • 70% of children are Vit D deficient from lack of sunlight

  • 50% of preschoolers are never taken outside for play

  • Denied access to nature increases anxiety and behavior issues

  • Parental fear is the #1 cause of children’s isolation from nature

Benefits of Spending Time in Nature

  • Stimulates creativity

  • Test scores 50% higher

  • Increased imagination, reasoning and observation

  • Able to cope with stress

  • Higher self esteem

  • More adaptable

  • Decreased anxiety and improved balance

  • Healthy mind/body/spirit

  • Increased awareness of surroundings

  • Improved social skills

  • Increased emotional and intellectual development

  • Understanding of nature’s cycles

We see this disconnect as the root cause of human imbalance, as evidenced by the underlying anxiety and discord prevalent in many children, adults and in modern society as a whole. With the loss of positive and direct interaction with the outdoors comes the loss of knowing who we are as one of Nature’s beings. When we reconnect, we remember that we are completely reliant and dependent on Nature; we are a part of, not apart from it. This fosters a reverence for the beauty and wonder of Nature, and restores respect for life.   As caretakers, we live harmoniously within Nature’s systems. This fosters harmony in ourselves and creates balanced nature-human relationships.  It also brings back having fun in Nature!

As Richard Louv states in the introduction to his book: “Last child in the woods” he says, “Reducing that deficit—healing the broken bond between our young and nature—is in our self-interest, not only because aesthetics or justice demands it, but also because our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends upon it. The health of the earth is at stake as well. How the young respond to nature, and how they raise their own children, will shape the configurations and conditions of our cities, homes—our daily lives”.

Nature deficit disorder

Nature deficit disorder

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