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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Nature Trips Free Teens from Their Screens

by Angie Roberts

Nature deprivation, also called nature-deficit disorder, is the idea that kids are spending more time in front of screens and less time in the great outdoors. This lack of nature connection has been linked to a wide range of behavioral issues, including depression and anxiety as well as a loss of empathy and lack of altruism.

Fortunately, there is a solution for teenagers experiencing this type of deprivation—extended periods of time in nature. Outdoor excursions have been shown to reduce anger, fear and stress while being replaced with more pleasant feelings and a greater connection to the natural world. Being in nature also reduces blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension and the production of stress hormones.

Additional benefits for teens on extended nature adventures include:

·      Unplugging completely from technology and plugging into the earth

·      Physical activity, movement and breathing fresh, clean air

·      Creative thinking, problem solving and navigating new terrain with others

·      Builds confidence, communication skills, leadership and teamwork

·      Increases mindfulness, self-efficacy and a sense of overall well being

·      Play! While often overlooked, play is as important to teenagers as is it is for younger kids

·      Getting out of their comfort zone to learn new things

·      Greater appreciation for the natural world with first-hand experience of its majesty

·      Life-changing experiences and memories that last a lifetime

The effects of increased screen time, fewer social interaction due to the pandemic, and increased anxiety and depression can be reversed through extended time in the great outdoors, allowing nature deprivation to subside and the teen’s true nature to step forward.

Angie Roberts is the program director and lead guide for Breakwater Expeditions in Sandpoint, Idaho, which offers multiple summer nature excursions designed specifically for teens ages 13 to 17. For more information, visit BreakwaterExp.com/teen-young-adult or call 208-263-0277.
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