Do you ever feel like we have lost something, like things used to have a richness to them that you can’t quite put your finger on? Our world is now full of more connection, information, and noise than we can comprehend. We shifted into this busy lifestyle without question. When this technology ridden lifestyle shift happened we were all so excited. We were exploring a new frontier of connection, from telephones, television and now the internet. We are only beginning to understand the impact all of it is having on our lives and how extremely addictive it has all become.
Lost. Why we need the outdoors more now than ever.
What if that thing we lost is nature and our addiction to the new age technology are contributing to the feeling of being lost? As a kid, I remember riding my bike home from school, putting down my backpack, and getting back outside to play until my mom made me come in. These days, the neighborhood streets and playgrounds are empty. Kids are coming home from school and staying inside.
Our lack of connection to nature may even be creating an actual deficiency in a nutrient that is vital for our health. Early research is shining a light on our indoor epidemic and its far-reaching symptoms, especially on kids.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination ¹surveyed 10,000 kids all around the nation. Their data was analyzed by Dr. Kumar and colleagues. Their findings showed that 70% of children ages 1-to-21 years old were either deficient or insufficient in Vitamin D.
Since our addiction to screens is steadily increasing and time spent outside is decreasing, it only makes sense that we are experiencing a greater deficiency of Vitamin D.
What’s the big deal with “D” you may ask? Well, vitamin D is produced in the body after the skin is exposed to sunlight. It is not something we can get through nutrition alone, although there are supplements. We need vitamin D to:
- A) absorb calcium in our bones,
- B) function our cardiovascular system,
- C) think healthy thoughts with a healthy brain.
Mental and Physical Health
I see the connection to nature slipping away while our connection to screens is increasing. Don’t get me wrong, technology is awesome! But, in reality, we do not really know the long-term effect technology is going to have on our overall health. Right now it seems as though technology is pulling us away from the natural world and we are just starting to see the impact this nature deficiency is having on our overall physical health. It may also be affecting our mental health as well.
I think it’s easier for a parent to understand nature deficiency because we have that contrast of our own outdoor childhood to miss. Many of today’s kids can’t really share in this loss because they are not encouraged to get outside. That is why it is so important for our generation to instill that spirit of adventure into kids.
Steps to Instilling Adventure into Kids
The first step in making a change is to acknowledge that which we want to change. Basically, we need to acknowledge that there is a nature deficiency happening in today’s society.
The next step is to change ourselves as parents and get outside. We need to be role models for our kids and put down our phones. We need to prioritize getting outside and also play outside with our kids.
When we can recreate that connection to nature in ourselves it will, in turn, inspire our children to find what has become lost. Lost not only to the parents that grew up with that connection, but lost to a generation that never knew what they were missing. My hope is that we can create that connection once again and heal both our physical self and mental spirit.
||Sawyer Kid Co was founded with the mission to get kids outside and instill a spirit of adventure in them. Valuable life skills are gained by learning to pick oneself up and try again. They encourage kids to grow through playing outside, exploring, and aiming to succeed in difficult activities. Their aim is to “outfit children of the wild” and be an educational resource that inspires a passion for the natural world.
1. Kumar, J., Muntner, P., Kaskel, F. J., Hailpern, S. M., Melamed, M. L., (2009). Prevalence and associations of 25-Hydroxyvitamin D deficiency in US children: NHANES 2001-2004. Pediatrics, 124(3), e362-e370. http://www.childrenandnature.org/research/many-u-s-children-are-vitamin-d-deficient-and-this-deficiency-is-associated-with-cardiovascular-risk-factors-2/