March 12, 2005

3/12 - Enviros Wake Up: Children are not spending time out in nature (duh)

As the old folks who run the environmental movement (motivated by the fondness of their childhood memories) worry about writing OpEds, taking out full page ads, and creating brochures, America is raising a new "media generation" who, in the future, will be more interested in creating theme parks that celebrate their favorite video games (which will be their fondest memories of childhood) than creating national parks. Just look at this report yesterday on the Internet Movie Data Base:

The average child between the ages of 8 and 18 now spends 6.5 hours a day with TV, the Internet, video games, radio, MP3 players and other media, according to a study released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and reported by Advertising Age. When children's multitasking is taken into account -- in which they are exposed to the content and advertising of two or more media at once -- their media engagement becomes the equivalent of 8.5 hours a day, more than the average workday of most adults. Commenting on the data, New York Senator Hillary Clinton urged advertisers to take it into account in producing commercials, and she joined a bipartisan group of colleagues who have reintroduced legislation calling for additional research into the impact of the media on children. She indicated that she was particularly concerned about the impact of violent images on TV, movies and video games on children.

8.5 hours/day for media, 6 hrs for school, 3 hrs for eating, 8 hrs for sleep, that leaves negative 1.5 hours for nature

Posted by Randy Olson at March 12, 2005 04:12 PM

Our children are indeed growing up outside of nature. I completely agree that this is one of the main reasons that the signs of ecosystem collaps are invisible to all but a handful of people. We are extricating ourselves from nature; how can we expect our children to understand and respect it as the matrix for their own lives and well-being? We humans should be smarter than that.

Posted by: Marty Fujita at March 12, 2005 11:18 PM

Reminds me of the title of an educational filmstrip that they showed to the children at school in an episode of "The Simpsons":

"Man vs. Nature: The Road to Victory"

Posted by: Jason Lefkowitz at March 13, 2005 05:16 PM

Jason Lefkowitz wins the award for best comments on the SB Blog.

In the meanwhile ... on a more serious note, why, oh why, are the heads of the big environmental NGO's so utterly naive on all of this. I have met with several of the CEO's of the big ones. They're nice folks, but they are relatively old (not to me, but to the major demographics of American society) and utterly detached from what is occurring with the youth of America.

There are ways to look to the future and make it a priority to genuinely reach the youth (and not the PBS youth, but the MTV youth). And to at least try to understand what it will be like when we no longer have many adults who have intimate memories of nature from their childhoods.

There's going to be a consequence. Don't the environmental organizations understand this?

Posted by: Randy Olson at March 13, 2005 07:04 PM