In 2005 American journalist and non-fiction writer Richard Louv published Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. In this book Louv studied the relationship of children and the natural world in current and historical contexts, creating the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe possible negative consequences to individual health and the social fabric as children move indoors as a result of immersion in television, Internet, and computer games, and away from physical contact with the natural world – particularly unstructured, solitary experience.
Louv cited research pointing to attention disorders, obesity, a dampening of creativity and depression as problems associated with a nature-deficient childhood. He amassed information on the subject from practitioners of many disciplines to make his case, and is commonly credited with helping to inspire an international movement to reintroduce children to nature.
I first learned about Louv's book in a lecture by paleontologist, educator, and television broadcaster Scott D. Sampson held at Marin Academy in San Rafael, California on October 26, 2011. Sampson's lecture was the first in a science lecture series organized by my son, Max, in his junior year in high school. An extremely engaging speaker, Sampson uses the electronic media to promote the disengagement from media, and active exploration of nature, especially in childhood. He also promotes the use of social media in promoting scientific exploration of nature by the individual in each person's locality.