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Congress Aims To Combat ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’

Midweek Mental Greening

Despite my thoughts about how some technological advances can help boost your mental health, ideally I think it’s best for people to spend as much time outdoors as possible. New friend requests, message alerts, and the hum of a computer can’t hold a candle to fresh air, sunlight, and the smell of newly cut grass.

Is this why, after it won in the House but failed to pass overall last year, the “No Child Left Inside Act” is getting ready to be reintroduced to the House and Senate? Perhaps. That, and the idea (or fact, depending on who you’re talking to) that America’s children are becoming increasingly detached from the outside (i.e. natural) world – they’re coming close to or already suffering from “Nature-Deficit Disorder” – according to a recent article.

Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) are heading up the bill – one that Sarbanes hopes will mean “kids can learn in nature, not just learn about nature”:

“Basically, in a civics class, teachers can take their students to explore a historic trail or in a history class, teachers can take them to a national park,” Sarbanes said.

The article goes on:

“According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, children are disconnecting with the natural world and are spending more than six hours a day in front of computer screens, video games and televisions rather than outside. Spending time outside is important for children’s physical and emotional health, the study said.”

When I was a kid in school, we had “environmental education.” It was called science, biology, and recess – all of which had us outside learning and enjoying the great outdoors at one point or another. Teachers didn’t need Congress telling them it was okay to trek a historic trail or visit a national park – they only needed school board approval and signed permission slips.

And these “six hours a day” in front of computers, video games, and televisions? After all the stuff I remember from after school (the extracurricular activities, dinner, homework, phone calls with boyfriends and best friends), I can’t even wrap my brain around how kids these days find an extra six hours a day.

Times have changed, though – I get that. When I was in high school, the Internet was in the neonatal stages of becoming a household word. I didn’t even get my first personal computer (i.e. one I didn’t have to pull rank on my sister to use) until my freshman year of college.

However, I do remember how the lure of new e-mails, learning to build a website, and chatting on Yahoo! Messenger called to me until classes were over. “Nature-Deficit Disorder” might not have been in full swing back then, but the foundation was definitely there.

So, what do you think? Upset about what this bill says about the current state of our nation’s children and education system? Happy that someone is trying to do something about it? Let us know below, and in the meantime you can visit these websites to learn more about the “No Child Left Inside Act”:

Congress Aims To Combat ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2018). Congress Aims To Combat ‘Nature-Deficit Disorder’. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 18 Mar 2009)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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