Human activities over the historical development of civilization caused the separation of humans from nature. Until only 200 years ago, children spent time surrounded by fields, wildlife and forests. Towards the end of the 20th century, settlements have become urbanized, but, compared to the present, children still spent considerable time outdoors or playing on roads, streets, parks and other green spaces. The life of children in the modern age is much different. In his book, Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv introduces the term “nature–deficit disorder,” describing it not as a medical disorder, but as a social trend – a toll of alienation of humans, and especially children, from nature. The causes of this alienation are numerous: parents’ fear of letting their children play outside, the appeal of electronic devices and entertaining media contents, poor urban planning and disappearance of public open spaces, reduced representation of nature and animal topics in the formal education, and more.
“The child in nature is an endangered species, and the health of children and the health of the Earth are inseparable“ (Richard Louv)
Research shows that nature deficit in children leads to a number of problems: decreased use of sense, attention disorders, obesity, increased risk of emotional and physical illnesses. All of these consequences of nature deficit are related to what human health protection experts call the “epidemic of inactivity” that has taken hold in today’s world. In addition to health problems, nature deficit in children leads to a lack of knowledge, reduced care and a lack of responsible attitude towards nature and animals. Most of the authors dealing with this issue believe that positive attitudes towards the natural environment are formed in early childhood, i.e. early and middle childhood, and that such attitudes require direct contact with and stay in nature. The problem with education is that children gain knowledge and try to develop responsibility, without having the opportunity beforehand to develop love for nature.