Are Video Games Killing Trees?

Children are subject to an increasing amount of stress due to rising academic demands, household issues and participation in multiple after school activities. Therefore, children tend to relieve the stress by divulging in video games and television programs that suspend their thinking, offering an escape from their current reality. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with the easing of stressors to aid in the restoration of mental faculties. However, this has been taken to an entirely new level with the installation of massive video game systems in the rooms of children as young as 5 years old. Due to the exclusion, children are beginning to develop disorders that are causing physical, psychological and emotional distress – often long term. In one story reported early last year, a child(age 7)urinated himself after playing twelve straight hours of video games, later being diagnosed with dehydration and malnutrition due to the extended period of time spent in front of the television without moving. A question here to pose is how this human behavior is affecting the world that is supplying the energy to keep those television images animated? Here are the findings by Richard Louv:

Nature deficit disorder refers to a hypothesis by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods[1] that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors [2] resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems.[3][4] This disorder is not recognized in any of the medical manuals for mental disorders, such as the ICD-10[5] or the DSM-IV,[6] neither is it part of the DSM-5.[7] Evidence was compiled and reviewed in 2009. [8]

Louv claims that causes for the phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of the screen.[9] Recent research has drawn a further contrast between the declining number of National Park visits in the United States and increasing consumption of electronic media by children.[10]

Richard Louv spent ten years traveling around the USA reporting and speaking to parents and children, in both rural and urban areas, about their experiences in nature. He argues that sensationalist media coverage and paranoid parents have literally “scared children straight out of the woods and fields”, while promoting a litigious culture of fear that favors “safe” regimented sports over imaginative play.

In recognising these trends, some people[11] argue that humans have an instinctive liking for nature—the biophilia hypothesis—and take steps to spend more time outdoors, for example in outdoor education, or by sending young children to forest kindergartens or forest schools. It is perhaps a coincidence that slow parenting advocates sending children into natural environments rather than keeping them indoors, as part of a hands-off approach.[12]

Nature is not only to be found in National Parks.[13] The chapter “Eden in a Vacant Lot” by Robert M. Pyle (page 305) emphasises the opportunity for exploration and fascination in small untended wildernesses, and rejoices in the 30,000 vacant lots in Detroit, arising due to downtown decay.

The diagnosis has been criticized as a misdiagnosis that obscures and mistreats the problem of how and why children do not spend enough time outdoors and in nature.[14]

The New York Times reported that the average young American now spends practically every minute — except for the time in school – using a smartphone, computer, television or electronic device,” Tamar Lewin reported in 2010, from a Kaiser Family Foundation study. This means that the time not spent outside is not just damaging the children, but also the environment. Without adequate understanding and respect for their natural environment, all components of the natural environment suffer. Due to the large amounts of time spend inside visually “hooked-up” to technology, there is a lack for understanding to what extent their actions have on the environment.

Take action today. Take a child outside to enjoy what nature freely offers to us in the form of organic entertainment. Nature isn’t as flashy as the the modern entertainment of today. However, if you close you will witness something spectacular. You will afford them health, wealth and long-lasting happiness. Arguably, something far more spectacular.

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