It comes as no surprise that kids these days are spending less time in nature than previous generations did, but it's always alarming when casual observations are cemented by formal research. A new study out of North Carolina State University and Clemson University has found that middle-school students, even those living in rural areas, are spending more time indoors and less outdoors. The culprit? Screens.
Middle school, defined as grades six to eight, can be a tough time for many young people, with their lives becoming more structured, academic pressure mounting, and priorities shifting. Amid all these changes, the total time spent in nature starts slipping more rapidly than in earlier years. It affects several demographic groups more than others: girls, African-American students, and eighth graders are most likely to experience a reduction in outdoor time, whereas maintaining a connection to nature is highest among boys, White students, and sixth graders.
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