Thanks to Conservation magazine for this article, published coincidentally exactly at the time when several Raxa Collective contributors were visiting the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which itself is participating in the App business (more on which, by Seth soon) in a manner resonant with the focus of this article:
The Nature Deficit
Judging from the amount of time my grandkids hunch over their iPhones and iPads for game time, I’d have to say games have garnered a major portion of the younger set’s mindshare. And in my book that’s a shame. While more and more studies find that children’s outdoor time contributes to their well-being — by mitigating obesity, promoting cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and mental health, as well as boosting academic achievement — the number of hours children spend outdoors is on the decline. (See also here.)
Is there a cause and effect? I’d say that’s a no-brainer. With only so many hours in a day, it’s a safe bet that all that time kids spend playing computer and video games means less time outdoors. In his book The Last Child in the Woods author Richard Louv refers to this phenomenon as a “nature deficit disorder,” a phenomenon Paul, a fourth grader from San Diego, indirectly describes with this comment: ”I like to play indoors better ’cause that’s where all the electrical outlets are.”
So What’re You Gonna Do?
How do we reduce our children’s nature deficit? One approach is for parents to “be the boss” and confiscate those electronic gadgets and tell your kids to “get outside and play.” It’s a strategy that can work, but as a parent, I can tell you it can also be counterproductive, leading to resentment and rebellion. Authors Sarah Olmsted (Imagine Childhood), Hilmi Ibrahim and Kathleen A. Cordes (Outdoor Recreation) and Louv are just four people who are considerably more creative with the hundreds of different strategies they offer in their books.
Now a growing group of gaming programmers and app developers has come up with another approach — a sort of “if you can’t beat them, join them” strategy: use computer games, the presumptive enemy in this battle for your children’s mind, to acquaint them with and spark interest in the environment and possibly even get them outside.
What’s Your Game? Make It Nature
Visit the Apple App Store or Google Play, and you’ll find dozens of games, many of them free, intended to teach and inspire on all things environmental. Which are the good ones? That’s where you’re going to have to get down and dirty into gaming if you want to find the ones that are worth your kids’ time. Here are three (all available for free) that TheGreenGrok has had a tiny bit of time to check out and that look pretty good:
…Read the whole article here.