Digital photography may be the key to encouraging a generation of wired kids to unplug their screens long enough to head outdoors and connect with the natural world. Or at least that’s the key finding to emerge from a recent study conducted by a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, Minnesota.
The study, which examined the impact of digital nature photography on Grade 4 students, was conducted by Seth Spencer, an environmental education master’s student. He discovered that digital cameras are capable of influencing “connectedness to nature” levels in children. (According to his research, three-quarters of children over the age of 6 who live in economically developed countries own or have access to a digital camera.)
We are just beginning to understand and appreciate the importance of such a connection, says Spencer. Children who spend time in nature are calmer, more creative and healthier (both physically and mentally). They are also more likely to want to take steps to protect the environment: “Having that emotional attachment to nature is really important in order for a child to have any real desire to have a positive impact on nature,” he explains.
Attitudes toward the environment formed in childhood often carry over into adulthood. As environmentalist Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods (2008) and The Nature Principle (2012), notes: “People aren’t likely to care about or value the environment if they haven’t had a meaningful connection with nature at some point in their…
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