I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I spent a lot of time outdoors – playing with neighborhood kids, galloping around pretending to be a wild horse, and mixing mud pies for my mom. Good times spent outside make up the fabric of my happy childhood memories.
As a mother in the suburbs, I have been pretty good at getting my own kids to spend time outside. Often when I describe where I live, people will say – I know the house – your kids are always playing outside! It’s pretty sad that such a thing is noteworthy. The main reason they happily spent so much time outside is that I often spent time playing outside with them and because I did not let them use high tech devices like ipods, video games, computer games, or cell phones. Now that they are in middle school and I am working more, most of those high tech bans have gone by the wayside. Now my kids rarely go outside by choice, and I see firsthand how addicting and limiting these devices really are.
Given this experience, I was especially interested to read about the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) movement in a letter to the editor of the New York Times written by Jack Reed, senator from Rhode Island. The NCLI Coalition is made up of over 1300 member organizations. On Earth Day this year, Reed introduced a bill in the Senate supporting hands-on environmental education. This sounds like a good thing. My company Back2Tap is committed to fostering environmental education in schools and offers free educational materials on-line, regardless of whether schools order our stainless steel bottles.
According to Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods,” the health of the planet is at stake, in addition to the health of our kids. If kids grow up with “nature deficit disorder”, why would they care about saving the planet as adults? Nicholas Kristof’s recent New York Times Op-Ed entitled: “How to Lick a Slug” suggests that we let our kids learn about nature first hand, by spending time outdoors.
I’m wondering if any lasting childhood memories could be generated by playing another round of video games or exchanging inane text messages with friends.