Let kids play in nature
Biophilia: what you and your kids really need to know.
Kids need to live nature: they need to feel at home in its surroundings, be happy to play in its mud, climbs its trees, dig in its sand and make dens from its rocks, branches and leaves.
It is not enough to watch nature videos and be herded from plastic playground to plastic playground by watchful parents concerned about dirt and injury.
What kids need is a real sense of belonging and ownership of our place in the natural world: and our planet desperately needs this more than ever.
American writer Richard Louv wrote about our increasing ‘nature deficit disorder’ in his 2005 best-seller The Last Child in the Woods, and yet year after year more kids get more screen-time – starting ever earlier – while schools load up on academic demands and parents grow ever more fearful of allowing their children to play unsupervised. Today, hospitals see fewer kids’ turning up with broken bones and a rise in obesity and repetitive stress injuries.
Louv also talks about ‘ecophobia’, children being overwhelmed with scenarios of fear and disaster when it comes to the environment, none of which helps instill in them that the planet and the natural world around us, is a part of who we are, our very humanity.
This is best described by evolutionary biologist EO Wilson. In the early eighties he wrote his theory of biophilia; that humans have a deep affiliation with other forms of life, and that our need to be in and around nature is deeply rooted in our biological needs.
Today, the trickle of his theory is turning into a stream: evidence from all walks of life points to a need for nature. From surgery patients recovering quicker in rooms with windows facing natural surroundings, to studies showing how being in nature improves memory and lowers blood pressure and levels of stress hormone cortisol, as well as reducing depression. Suddenly traditions like Japanese ‘forest bathing’ – literally walking among trees – still a standard form of preventative medicine there today, just make so much sense.
At a time when accessing the internet is becoming a right: surely we should also be fighting for kids to have meaningful access to nature as well.
Ultimately, if our kids grow up seeing nature as something else to consume; this ‘thing’ that’s ‘out there’ but that has nothing to do with their daily lives, memories or sense of being, how can we really expect them to look after the planet at all?
At Vivobarefoot we want to help your family return to the wild. Our sustainably-created shoes are designed to let your kids’ feet feel, helping them make the most out of their time outdoors.
So let your kids go wild in nature. You need it, they need it, and the planet definitely needs it.