Nature Deficit Disorder


Author Richard Louv wrote about today’s children being deprived of outdoor experiences in his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods (Algonquin, 2005). For whatever reasons—be they busy two-parent or single-parent families, fears for children’s safety, or lack of access to natural settings—youth today do not have the “running free through field and forest” experiences that children of the 40s, 50s and early 60s took for granted.

Louv coined the term “nature deficit disorder” to contrast with the growing spread of attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children. This hyperactive inability to concentrate has been linked to and blamed on overexposure to electronic devices that change images constantly. With the increase in television, video games and computers serving as electronic babysitters, Louv cites research that natural green environments boost attention span and give some relief from ADD.

California State Parks has always given children safe places to learn and grow with its park interpretive and educational programs.

California State Parks supports the Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, coined by our partners at the California Roundtable on Recreation, Parks and Tourism; see the Outdoor Bill of Rights at

To learn how California State Parks combats nature deficit disorder, visit the Children in Nature page at