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(NaturalNews) The tossing aside of age old childhood pastimes, such as tree climbing, in favor of staring at the illuminated screens of televisions and computers is making the protection of biodiversity more difficult.
According to Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary on biological diversity for the United Nations, the urbanization of many young people today has made them strangers to nature.
"Our children are behind their computers, their SMS, their videogames, watching TV," Djoghlaf said. "They are living in a virtual world and we need to re-connect them with nature."
Children in developed countries spend 95% of their free time on a computer or in front of a television, according to results of surveys Djoghlaf cited during a Southeast Asia biodiversity forum held in Manila, Philippines.
It seems as though a lack of education is one of the biggest culprits that threaten the preservation of biodiversity and our natural heritage. While children are learning about recycling and other green practices in their schools, it is hard for them to truly make the connection with what they are working to save if they have never spent any time out amongst it in its natural state.
"How can you protect something you don't know?" Djoghlaf asked, "How can you protect something you've never seen?"
Without parents discouraging this lack of connection to nature, with the purchasing of an endless stream of video games and systems, it is scary to wonder how much longer we have before our need to protect our Earth is removed from our consciousness. We are in desperate need of unplugging and leading our children by example, opening a dialogue and enjoying time with them out in the world so as to reverse the seemingly unfailing disinterest in nature.
Not only does this lack of connection with nature have harming effects for the environment, it is also harmful to our children. Researchers have found that children with disabilities can gain many positive and health-altering benefits from spending time immersed in nature. Studies of outdoor programs geared towards sick and troubled youth show clear therapeutic value and that just being exposed to views of green grass or trees can improve memory and concentration. Environmental psychologists reported in 2003 that nature in or around the home, or even simply a room with a view of a natural landscape, helped maintain the psychological well being of children.