Nature Connection hits NPR

Hey Kids! Go Outside, Already
by Tom Ashbrook

American kids today spend only four to seven minutes a day playing outdoors. We hear a new call to raise the “wild child.”

In the space of a generation, American children have been largely pulled out of nature. By one study, the average American boy or girl now spends, on average, just four to seven minutes a day outdoors. There are all kinds of reasons, but at heart it’s a lifestyle change. More screens, more protectiveness, more scheduled lives. American kids under what some call “house arrest.’ My guest today says that childhood divorce from nature is costing us, our children, dearly in physical and mental health and more.  This hour On Point: getting the kids back to nature. Raising the “wild child.”


SURPRISING FACT: This generation of kids may be the first to have a life expectancy that is less than that of their parents!


HEALTH of OUR KIDS: It matters because we’re impoverishing the growth of children if we don’t give them that outdoor connection. We know that unstructured play in the outdoors is critical for kids growing up—for their brains, their bodies—it helps with motor skills, agility, balance, brain power, creativity, imagination, problem solving. Even bullying tends to be reduced in natural settings.


HEALTH of the ENVIRONMENT: Every generation makes the decision about preserving public lands, state parks, national parks, etc., and if kids aren’t connecting with nature where they live, why are they going to protect these places when they grow up? We know that conservation will depend on having a generation that cares about the natural world. So, connecting kids with nature is an issue not just for the health of kids, but for the health of where they live.