From Daily Mail: While most children benefit from having time outdoors, for some youngsters it is triggering feelings of anxiety and despair due to fears over climate change.
These ‘troubling emotions’ and their link to climate change have been studied by University of Colombia researchers for the British Ecological Society. In the first of its kind study to focus on children and teenagers connecting with nature, the team conducted a full review of other studies, articles and books.
Children and teenagers were triggered by the natural world and their inability to control what was happening to the ‘unravelling biosphere’, the team said.
The authors found that measures currently used to connect children to the natural world can help others cope with feelings of fear linked to climate change.
Within the past generation children’s lives have largely moved indoors with the loss of free-ranging exploration of the natural world, the team said. ‘In response, many conservation organisations advocate connecting children with nature, and there has been rising interest in measuring young people’s connectedness with nature,’ authors wrote.
The review found that connecting with nature has many positive benefits for the wellbeing of a young person including improving health and happiness.
However, it wasn’t universally positive, according to study author Dr Louise Chawla, who said connecting with nature was a ‘complex experience’ for many teenagers.
Many children know they are inheriting a changing world that is likely to get worse and this leads them to feelings of anxiety and despair, said Chawla.
That doesn’t mean it was all bad news, the team say that despite the strong emotions, there are significant benefits from being outdoors more often. ‘There is strong evidence that children are happier, healthier, function better, know more about the environment, and are more likely to take action to protect the natural world when they spend time in nature,’ Chawla said.
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