My opinion on our technology epidemic – Samantha Spitzer, USA

“We eat imported emotions as if they were

canned sausages while the young children

of television, trained to watch life instead of

making it, shrug their shoulders.”

Eduardo Galeano

The above quote captures what I see as a very real problem: virtual reality continues to shield children from real relationships with nature.

Choosing virtual activities over real experiences in nature has become the norm in todays youth. Children are becoming addicted to the fast paced virtual world of the internet, TV, and smart phones, losing patience with the real world. Because of this addiction, children are continually becoming less social and are showing the effects of Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD). Introduced by Richard Louv in his book ‘The Last Child in the Wild’, NDD proposes that the absence of nature in a child’s life will lead to mental and behavioral problems, depression, and Attention Deficit Disorder.

When children are plugged in, they become part of a scripted, virtual image that affects how they act, think, look and talk. This blurred background has replaced recreation through nature. Recreation, derived from “re” and “create,” can also mean to create again. Re-creating our youth through nature is something we can do. In order to re-create, we must get out of the virtual jungle, unplug, and slow down.

Children who aren’t submersed in nature are becoming less aware of environmental issues that threaten our future. I believe unplugged activities in nature should be part of every child’s education. Interlacing education with nature activities promotes a greater development of imagination, creativity, awareness, self-confidence, and academic achievement to enhance children’s lives. This type of education will not only help today’s youth, but it will also help future generations embrace nature and help solve our environmental problems.

In breaking from the manufactured imported emotions of the pre-programmed world around us, snowboarding is my release. It provides me with that natural connection missing in the daze of confusion I face daily. When I get off the top of the lift and see the horizon stretching to conform to the earth’s surface, I am humbled. When powder blows against my face from a sharp turn, I am invigorated. When I hear the sound of silence, I’m serene. It provides me with a way to find my inner voice and let it shout. None of this is possible in the plugged-in world. I’d like to help children reconnect with nature where they discover their own creativity, individuality, and hear their own inner voices.

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