Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Ecological and Environmental Anthropology Vol. 2, No. 1, 2006. Copyright © 2006 O’Brien. Used by permission. Online at http://eea.anthro.uga.edu/index.php/eea/index


Like many other children growing up in the suburban United States during the 1970s, my childhood memories include swinging from tree limbs, tromping through the woods, and constructing tree forts in the far stretches of our neighborhood. But what happens when an entire generation of children grows up without such memories? Richard Louv, a New York Times journalist and founder of Connect for Kids, an internet-based child advocacy organization, explores this question in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. According to Louv, children today are more adept at naming cartoon characters than native species and overwhelmingly prefer indoor to outdoor play. Louv describes the physical, emotional, and cognitive effects of children’s disconnect from the natural world as “nature deficit disorder”. Although this is neither a medical term nor condition, Louv supports his theory with narratives drawn from his own childhood in Nebraska and from some of today’s foremost child development researchers and environmental writers. Louv also reaches beyond anecdotal evidence by providing recent research to support his claims.