Connecting kids to nature

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like without nature? We live in a very lucky place to experience natural wonders and forests as the background to our lives. 

Now imagine the movie Wall-E that came out in 2008. Humans had to leave the Earth because we abused the natural resources and trashed the planet. We were shipped to space in a giant rocket and were unable to walk after our health declined so much. Is that where we are headed? 

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I hope not and I don’t believe so but I think that connecting children to nature at a young age is important to help them gain an appreciation and understanding of just how integral it is to our lives later on. I remember climbing trees in my backyard in Whitehorse, swimming in the river and even getting a few bumps and bruises along the way. I didn’t have a phone until I was 13 (for someone my age, that's almost unheard of) and it was one of those Nokia phones where you had to click number 1 three times to type the letter C. I believe this made me into who I am today and helped me gain an understanding and respect for the natural world. It’s proven that spending time in nature makes us happier and “time in nature” is even being prescribed to uplift spirits and help with mental health. 

Nowadays, we see young children as young as Grade 1 or 2 being given phones and some can operate them better than I can. For someone that spends a lot of time on her phone and laptop, I can’t point fingers at all. I believe that spending time offline is incredibly important and I sure don’t do it enough. I see the benefits to technology and this online world we have created, but where is the line? How much screen time is too much? 

There are great settings built into iPhones that help you manage how much time you spend on your phone by sending reminders when you have reached a certain limit. For example, you could set a reminder when you have spent an hour on Facebook or Instagram and of course, it doesn’t turn off the app or lock your phone but that little reminder can help you put your device down and focus on finding time to go outside and experience the world in front of you. 

This is a difficult time for many as Seasonal Affective Disorder affects two to three per cent of the general population, and especially here in the north, these cold, dark months can be very hard on people. When it’s icy outside, it’s difficult to do tasks as basic as walking the dog, let alone getting in physical activity outside without slipping and breaking an ankle. Regardless of your ability, job, or age, I challenge and encourage you to unplug and reconnect for even one hour a day, even if it's just sitting out on your patio. 

A great social media personality I follow named Venetia La Manna (@venetiafalconer if you want to follow her too) started a challenge called #offline48 to promote putting our phones away for the weekend. I still have not had enough courage to try it for fear of missing out and always making an excuse that I need it for something. I know it’s quite ironic that a social media personality is using a challenge she created online, to promote getting offline. Whether it’s plugging in your phone an hour before bedtime and reading a book instead of scrolling Facebook or turning your phone to do not disturb so you’re not constantly picking it up, it’s healthier for humans and the planet to reconnect and find our appreciation for nature again. 


I look around our community and, regardless of politics, I am surrounded by passionate environmentalists and conservationists, avid hunters and fishers and generations of farmers who have lives based around nature. I want to make sure that the next generation does not lose this connection to the land. Wall-E might not technically be dystopian fiction but I have a hard time imagining a more frightening future than one where we are absolutely disconnected from nature. 


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