11 April 2017

'Outdoorsy' kids may become environmentally-conscious adults

Research shows that adults who grew up 'in nature' are more concerned about the planet.

Many parents are concerned that their children spend too much time indoors on their phones and in front of screens, and not outdoors. But there is another good reason for parents to push their kids outdoors…

Enjoying time outdoors early in life may play a role in developing the desire to protect nature later in life, a new study finds.

"Developing positive experiences in nature at a young age can influence our attitudes and behaviours towards nature as adults," study author Catherine Broom, an assistant professor of education at the University of British Columbia Okanagan, said in a university news release.

Making the environment a priority

In addition, kids who play outdoors are able to:

  • Express creativity
  • Expand the imagination
  • Get plenty of exercise
  • Get fresh air into their lungs

The study was published in the Australian Journal of Environmental Education.

Canadian researchers interviewed 50 college students between the ages of 18 and 25. All of the women and 87% of the men expressed a love of nature.

Of those, 84% said protecting the environment was a priority, according to Broom.

Positive experiences in nature

"It is important to study these childhood experiences in order to develop environmental awareness and action in the next generation," Broom added.

"Our findings imply that providing positive childhood experiences in nature, such as outdoor school programmes, may help to develop care for the environment in adults. However, these may not be sufficient unless programmes are building knowledge and self-awareness of environmental stewardship," Broom said.

She said educators need to connect positive experiences in nature to teaching students how they can protect the environment through actions like recycling, turning off the lights and using eco-friendly transportation.

Moreover, a study has found that although genetic factors play a role, outdoor playtime may also protect against nearsightedness – alternatively known as myopia

"Students need to learn and have a conscious understanding that the decisions we make each day can influence our environment, such as where we buy our food and how we use the earth's natural resources," Broom said.

Read more:

Can more time outside keep our kids' eyes healthy?

Outdoor gyms booming in SA

SA environment deteriorating


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