Nature Deficits & Tech Contracts

 

Nowadays, it’s not surprising that youth are using technology in all aspects of their lives. Whether it’s researching homework, playing videos games, texting, or ordering movie tickets online, this generation has become extremely tech-oriented. While technology has contributed to countless breakthroughs that have benefited society in areas such as communication and eduction, the rate at which technology is being used is alarming.

As technology is continuously evolving and changing, society has adapted to a lifestyle of putting its trust and dependance on the electronic world. There’s no question that children today are exposed to more technology than ever before! Dr. Brent Conrad explains that on average, 2/3 of a child’s day is devoted to technology use. Not to mention that children under the age of 2 are exposed to more than 50 minutes of screen time per day (which almost doubles by the time they reach 2-4 years). This is a serious problem, as technology is replacing important aspects of the child’s life such as family interactions, hobbies, and exercise.

Okay we get it…but lets dig a little deeper!

A major example of this downward spiral is revealed in the symptoms of a condition called “Nature Deficit Disorder”. The term coined by Richard Louv refers to the non medical condition of lacking a relationship with nature. Shockingly, the disconnect with nature has proven to negatively impact children, families, communities, and the environment itself! In a world where everything is “10 times better in HD”, society has become plagued by the repercussions that have stemmed out of its isolation from nature. Richard Louv’s emphasizes the severity of a number of these reoccurring symptoms in his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder”. He explains,

“…without regular immersion in nature, we can suffer physical and emotional distress, including anxiety, depression and obesity. Kids in particular become affected with attention disorders and can be less focused in school.”

Children in particular are at at an extreme risk of being infected by this tech-based bug! In a economy that targets children, experiences such as bird watching or learning to grow a garden have been replaced by Angry Birds and FarmVille. Technology has bombarded children’s senses, and has left them with shorter attention spans and an inability to be entertained by low stim activities.

So what’s being done to stop it?

Not surprisingly, the fight for a cure for this disorder has been sparked in the homes of many families across the world. Magazines, websites, and blogs such as Best Health Magazine have brought light to this topic in a number of ways. Incredibly, children have also taken their part in starting an initiative for change!

Take 13 year old Miranda Anderson:

 

In 2013, Miranda spoke up on this issue and introduced the world to the reality of Nature Deficit Disorder.

So what can we do?

The commitment to a lifestyle that decreases technology and increases time spent in nature is somewhat unheard of in today’s society. However, many families have benefited from the integration of a “Tech Contract” to help them make this commitment!

 

Blogger Marti Weston, awarded with the ‘Outstanding Educator Award’ from the International Association of Technology Educators, provides sources for families on the in and outs of tech agreements for digital-oriented children!  Tech Contracts are used to provide specific guidelines for technology use that fall under a number of categories such as age, time limits, location, and individual factors to set limitations for the household.

Tech Contracts are an excellent way to ensure that technology use remains in control and provides an opportunity to integrate necessary time spent with family, friends, and the environment! As well, Tech Contracts allow families to ensure online safety while their children are using internet based games and social media sites. Placing conditions on technology use allows individuals (especially children) to be more aware of how their time is being consumed and shines light on the negative sides of technology.

To take a stand against the tech bug syndrome, here are the “Eliz@beth Top Ten Rules for Technology Use for Children & Families”:

  1. No more than 1 hour of leisure technology use per day.

  2. No technology at the kitchen table.

  3. No technology after ___pm on weekdays, and ___pm on weekends.

  4. Technology can only be used after all homework and/or chores are complete.

  5. Every minute of technology use must be matched by time spent A) With family, B) Playing with friends, C) Outside, or D) Reading

  6. Apps must be approved by parents before downloading.

  7. Personal information will not be shared online.

  8. Passwords must not be shared with people outside of the family.

  9. Social Responsibility and Conduct will be used while online.

  10. Technology will be taken away when A) chores are not done B) Misbehaviour occurs, or C) One of the 10 rules are broken.

Take the challenge! Use our Top ten or create your own! After all, we all could use a little less digital and a lot more natural!

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