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New Dir Youth Dev. 2011 Summer;2011(130):89-104. doi: 10.1002/yd.399.

Outdoor-based play and reconnection to nature: a neglected pathway to positive youth development.

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Clemson University, USA.


Throughout history, outdoor-based play and the connection to nature have been recognized as important contributors to a happy life and healthy development. At times, however, play and nature have been neglected and viewed as frivolous and wasteful. In the early twentieth century, the first play movement took place to get children out of the factories and back outdoors to play. Now, a century later, factors including twenty-four-hour media,stranger danger, and overscheduling of children's time have resulted in a level of play deprivation that is contributing to a host of social, emotional, and physical problems. This article draws on recent research that shows that as many as 40 percent of America's schools have eliminated or significantly reduced recess. Also, children and adolescents are spending an average of fifty-three hours each week in front of screen media, and only 31 percent of mothers report that their children play outside as frequently as they did as children. The deficits in outdoor-based play that arise from these lifestyles have resulted in significant increases in emotional and psychological disorders, decreased capacity to deal with stressors, and decreased physical fitness. This article describes specific organizations and programs that address the problem of play deprivation and reconnection to the outdoors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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