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Screen Time vs. Green Time: Why Nature Benefits Kids' Minds


Introduction


The pandemic was a lot to handle for all of us. However, one group that was vulnerable during this time was children. Most had their young years dealt a blow due to the pandemic and the measures we all took to keep ourselves - and other people - safe from harm. However, the impact this had on children primarily had to do with their mental well-being, with boredom setting in fast. However, this boredom would then turn into loneliness, which could - and sadly did, in most cases - lead to feelings of anxiety and other mental health conditions such as depression. However, in these somewhat post-COVID times, there is one place of connection that can help both with that loneliness and also help mental well-being and growth. That being, nature.



A clear path in a dense forest with trees surrounding.
Nature can provide many stunning views such as this, but can also provide many mental health benefits.

What counts as “connecting with Nature?” 


There are many ways we can connect with nature. Some small and big ways that we can include:


Having house plants to keep nature indoors - Allowing for the kids to have something to care for and watch grow, and bring nature inside their home in a safe environment. Another example of this could be something like painting images of nature for the kids to look at - butterflies, forests, etc - on the walls or making a painting on a canvas, either by your doing or letting the children paint and seeing what they come up with via the prompt of ‘nature’. 


Watch animals - This can be done at a zoo, or you can go all in and go to a forest or on a walk and just watch animals such as squirrels go about their day and not be bothered by anyone. This could also be done if the children have a pet at home of any kind - they can just sit and watch them go about how they navigate the world and their lives to feel a deeper connection to them.


Ambient noises - Ambient noises can be a good way for children to connect to nature. The best way for this to occur is to have a window open and listen to the world go by and birds - although, not everyone has that advantage with their sources of sounds; an alternate can be something like ambient sound apps from your phone that are recordings of things like forests, etc, and can help children learn about what animal is which.


Go for a walk in a forest - this is the most obvious of ideas. However, it can be overlooked. For the best way to truly embrace nature and let your children have a connection with it, going out for walks in places like forests is a great way to do it. 


A lying down reading a book looking up thinking and the model of the earth surrounded by greenery in the background
Taking some time off to stop and look at the beautiful surroundings which feels liberating

Benefits of connecting with nature


Helps with creativity - Due to being in nature helps you get away from the hustle of life, and it can help with stress. What this means, is that it can help you find a clearer headspace. Which can then be used for creativity/problem-solving. Below are a few more benefits that Children have when connecting with nature:


Focus - Being exposed to nature, in whichever form it takes (though, the more exposure to nature such as forests or walking on nature grounds, the better) can help them with focus. This is due to being in nature allowing us to feel more at ease and in a calming/safe space. It also helps because it gets rid of distractions. 


Freedom/Confidence - Children may have different levels of confidence between them. But, how nature allows for more freedom in play, can mean that they can find more confidence within themselves. It can give them confidence in both their agency, and also to stand by the decisions that they make.


A butterfly sitting in a leaf
Places such as Nature Reserves can be places where Children can experience nature in a closed space that allows them to still have all the benefits attached to being in the presence of Nature.

Loneliness - Nature can help children who are maybe lacking in the form of friendships by feeling connected to nature itself. This can come in the form of a pet, or by going on walks. They can feel less alone by just being in nature’s presence. 



Conclusion


Nature is something that Children can benefit from in a variety of ways. From building connections with people through it to helping with their creativity/decision-making abilities; nature can aid their development. And should not be skipped out on in their formative years.



Written by Jamie Clarke

Edited By Arunava Mukherjee

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