August 2014 cover

Nature Notebook

Why Be Out There?

Boy holding apples

The nature of childhood has changed. There's not much nature in it.

American childhood has moved indoors during the last two decades, taking a mental and physical toll on today’s kids. The negative impact of decreased time outdoors includes a doubling of the childhood obesity rate--accompanied by an incremental hundred billion dollar cost to our health care system--as well as declining creativity, concentration and social skills.

Some say it takes a village to raise a child. At NWF, we say it takes a backyard, a playground, a park.

Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment.

Join NWF in our goal to get 10 million kids outside, running, and playing. Your child is one in a million, take the pledge to Be Out There and make them one of 10 million.


Fast Facts About Outdoor Time and Children

  • Children are spending half as much time outdoors as they did 20 years ago. (Juster et al 2004); (Burdette & Whitaker 2005); (Kuo & Sullivan 2001)

  • Today, kids 8-18 years old devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes using entertainment media in a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). (Kaiser Family Foundation)

  • In a typical week, only 6% of children ages 9-13 play outside on their own. (Children & Nature Network, 2008)

  • Children who play outside are more physically active, more creative in their play, less aggressive and show better concentration. (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005; Ginsburg et al., 2007)

  • Sixty minutes of daily unstructured free play is essential to children’s physical and mental health. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2008)

  • The most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11. (Wells and Lekies, 2006)

Browse the pages listed on the left of this site to learn more about the health and mental benefits of regular outdoor time for kids - there are a lot! If you are looking for ways to get the kids in your life outside, we have some of that too.
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