Many of today's children are suffering from something being referred to as nature deficit disorder, and some in the UK are thinking of ways to reverse its effect.
We run the risk of sounding a lot older than we are by typing this, but it doesn't feel like so long ago that the majority of children went out to play. Riding their bikes up and down the street, playing soccer in the park, enjoying the outdoors with friends in a number of different ways.
That is no longer the image that springs to mind. When we think of the current generation of kids, most of you likely think of them indoors, usually playing video games. Plus, since most of those games can now be played online, they aren't even with their friends. It's something that likely annoys parents worldwide, but it is also so much more than that.
A number of today's children have developed something that is being referred to as nature deficit disorder. According to The Times, it's the reason that around a quarter of all children in the UK show signs of depression or anxiety. Perhaps the most alarming statistic of all comes from research undertaken in 2016. It revealed that three-quarters of British children were spending less time outdoors than prisoners.
Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and natural history writer, Mary Colwell are hoping to change that. Next week, the two of them will meet with Michael Gove, the UK's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Their suggestion to him will be to introduce a Natural History GCSE into the curriculum. A course that requires pupils to get out into nature and see what they're missing.
This meeting and suggestion is obviously the first step in what could be a long road. Introducing an entirely new subject into all schools nationwide will not be easy. If Mr. Gove likes the idea, however, it will be a promising start. Some of the stats laid out above are pretty scary. It's also not a massive leap to connect feelings of depression and anxiety with not leaving the house very often. Hopefully, learning more about nature will encourage more children to go outside more often. If it does, maybe other countries will follow in the UK's footsteps.