"Nature Deficit Disorder” in Pakistan
It is a disease of our age. In an age crammed with TV, computers, and electronic gadgets, children are isolated from the simple pleasures of exploring nature. As it is, academics, along with classes and extra-curricular activities, leave children with little
time to play outdoors. And even if they do, there are almost no green spaces left for them to enjoy. Even parks and playgrounds are often too manicured, and do not invite curious, open-ended exploration. Children today are thus robbed of a very essential part
of childhood: of connecting on a one-to-one basis with nature.
Author Richard Louv, in his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder mentions that this sense of isolation is radically affecting our children. According to him, it is harming their physical and mental
health and hampering their creativity. In fact, he has coined the phrase "Nature-Deficit Disorder" to describe this phenomenon.
Pakistan has been a victim of political and security crisis for a very long time, and ironically, they have apparently now adopted and evolved to these inevitable circumstances. Life continues seemingly uninterrupted after one turmoil
and other. Just as the other parts of the world the country has also experienced the IT revolution. With hundreds of channels on TV and access to wireless high speed internet, parks and playgrounds which were once the hub of all activity are now abandoned
and deserted. Urbanization in Pakistan is among the highest of ratios in Asiatic countries and the newly build sky scrapers and condos leave little space for the luxury that was once called a park. “Nature deficit disorder" if it may rightfully be coined as
so, is more than inevitable. The political crisis does affect this scenario to the extent that it is directly related to the economy and thereby inflation and unemployment.
As they grow older, teach children to value nature. Encourage them to adopt conservation practices. More importantly, practice them yourself. Explain to children how small things like using water carefully and keeping lights switched off when they do not
need them can contribute towards conserving nature.
Enhance their enjoyment of nature by giving them magnifying lenses, a pair of binoculars, or a simple telescope. Encourage your children to observe things they see and record them. Teach them to take notes. Get them to make sketches of what they see. Give
older children a simple camera, if they show an inclination for photography. Buy your children field guides to the common animals, birds, insects, or trees in your area; identifying plants and animals they see during their trips will help increase their knowledge
and make a fun activity into a life-long passion.