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“Our children are the first generation to be raised without meaningful contact with the natural world,” writes Louv, a columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune and founder of the Web site Connect for Kids. What’s keeping kids indoors? A lack (or perceived lack) of time; fears (of strangers, bugs and even dirt); and preoccupation with academic achievement, computers and television. His summary of the costs of “staying inside” is striking: too many children are dependent on Ritalin, stressed, overweight and void of “primary experiences”—the firsthand use of all of the senses to take in the world instead of just vision and sound (via video and headphones). Louv cites initiatives that could reverse the trend. In Helsinki, elementary school kids are sent outside every 45 minutes to “let off steam.”

 

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