Psychology

Modern Children are Disconnected from Reality



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For tens of thousands of years, children once lived among farms and villages, and knew neighbors, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Now they often live far from the family of origin and among strangers. For only the last two hundred years, human beings and their children have moved largely indoors. 

Children, always eager to play outdoors, are now living more limited and enclosed lives. They often play on computers, and or watch videos for hours.  Teens, especially, are more attached to their hand held devices and not connected to the natural and sensorial world. Gone is the daily foray into vast wilderness playgrounds, the open grasslands, forests, lakes and rivers that once provided recreation. Gone is the campfire, the night sky, the introduction to adulthood through  hunting rituals, initiations, rites of passage and dances. Gone is the understanding of place and belonging. Gone is the very wind itself, which once was harkened to as a voice of the sacred.

Instead, kids today know angry birds, video violence, degraded ecosystems without apex predators and very little understanding of the natural world. They are not to blame, for having been yanked out of the outdoors, but they do exhibit strong urges to reconnect to it.

The natural world, the cosmos, is the basis for all understanding of how things work. Human dependence upon technology does unite humans in very many ways, but most of them do not provide for a human being to be capable of supporting life on the land itself without a very complex, wired, and heavily artificial network of infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the change to sustainable and local living is not occurring very quickly. As a result all people, not just children, are very much out of touch with the real world.

The real world is the natural world.  It is the biosphere, but also the arisen culture that the natural world supplies to all organisms. People have lost touch with their connection to the other species needed to sustain life. A few are so disconnected, they seriously doubt that the environment matters.  They have come to act  as if water, air and soil were separate things from people. Many believe that these things were provided FOR people, and as children are taught this, much exploitation of the natural world is taken as a matter of course.

Due to children no longer knowing any better, they do not realize that green spaces, beautiful animals, inspiring vistas and pristine areas are essential for life on earth. They do not understand, either, the grief, loss, and in some cases repressed guilt, over a confusing relationship that conquers nature. Cooperation with nature, and among organisms is the basis for all successful food webs and interconnection between systems, which create and sustain water, soil, air, rocks and organisms. The stuff of life is nature-connected in our ecopsychology.

In short, human beings, having become overly dependent upon technology, are not as immersed in the life as they evolved to be. This will reverse when unsustainable lifestyles, especially those dependent upon large populations and fossil fuels slowly collapse, or unravel, to be replaced with more local and sustainable living. Technology will still be of central importance, as it will be sustainable, cleaner, innovative and with an emphasis on non waste, non pollution and non garbage.

As the new world, a more local one, is emphasized, perhaps some of human evolved ways will return. If not, the new ways will have to emphasize belonging in nature, or nature will not be able to sustain human populations in the tens of billions.

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More about this author: Christyl Rivers

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.naturalplaygrounds.info/.../A%20case%20for%20natural%20pl...
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.schooloflostborders.org/.../grief-rite-passage-wilderness-teacher...
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://heapro.oxfordjournals.org/content/21/1/45.full
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.ecopsych.com/