Many youth today are suffering from a serious, preventable disorder that is the result of early age experiences and if not properly diagnosed or treated, may cause severe mental health issues up through adulthood. This disorder I’m referring to is called Videophilia. Videophilia can be described as the love of any form of electronic media. This media may be internet, movies, video games, cell phones, or just plain TV. Many youth are so attached to their video devices that they hardly ever go outside to see what’s going on in the natural world. In Richard Louv’s book “Last Child in the Woods” he calls this condition “Nature-Deficit Disorder”.
According to the Center for Environmental Health, consistent contact with nature has many health benefits including helping to ease attention-deficit disorder, aiding in cognitive development, enhancing creativity, and reducing stress. With so much emphasis on our communities becoming more sustainable in how they utilize resources, many environmentalist fear that the loss of contact with nature will weaken Americans commitments to conservation and biodiversity. These concepts will have more impact to the future of our world if they are introduced to youth as they matriculate through grade school. The earlier we teach them how to enjoy the great outdoors the better!
What is nature you may ask?? Nature can be Yellowstone National Park, The Appalachia National Forest, or it could be a clump of trees at the back of a neighborhood or in someone’s yard. To the scientific eye the clump of trees might not look like much but to a child it could be a life changing experience. Every 4-H club agenda that is developed should include a nature walk or some other outdoor activity. Additionally, 4-H residential and day camps provide perfect opportunities for both youth and adults to explore the great outdoors together. Most electronic programs and activities only require hearing and seeing, however providing an outdoor experience for 4-H youth will provide opportunities to hear, smell, touch, see and sometimes taste. Nature Deficit Disorder may be a growing disorder, but lucky for us, with programs like 4-H and great volunteers, it is a disorder that can be easily cured!