Vermont Filmmaker, Camilla Rockwell:
Media Age Children's "Nature Deficit Disorder"
For those of us 40 and older, who grew up in rural or suburban areas, our childhood memories of outdoor play go something like this: We'd roam our neighborhood freely looking for adventure, build a fort in the woods, hunt for critters, play make-believe games with birch bark or acorns or mud, climb trees and fall from them, jump into a game of stickball or four-squares or hide-and-seek, spend time with a book or just alone with our thoughts.
We had spontaneous interactions with other children and adults. We'd spend hours without any contact with our parents, as long as we were home in time for supper. For better or for worse, much of our time was unscheduled and unmonitored. And yes, there was risk inherent in our play.
With the proliferation of cell phones and computers, organized playtime and sports, and the fear of "stranger danger," all that has changed.
Today, youth between the ages of eight and 18, according to a Kaiser Foundation Study, may spend as much as eight hours per day in front of a screen, whether a television, computer or a video game. The cultural term "helicopter parent," now part of our vernacular, describes a mom or dad, who hovers protectively over today's child, reducing the possibility of physical or emotional injury.
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