Bengaluru: With the advent of television, video games, computers and the Internet, and of late parents worrying about their safety, children are increasingly confined to the indoors, a situation that is causing among a growing number of them what doctors have come to call Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), in turn leading to negative personality attributes, especially among nine to 17-year-olds. “Today’s children do not have a childhood as such, and with increased academic pressure, they are not being exposed to nature, which is essential for them to develop physical immunity (to diseases).
It also directly affects their social interactions and relationships. What we are seeing now is continuously stressed personalities with sleep disturbances and relationship disorders," says Dr. N.K. Venkataramanaa, director, Global Institute of Neurosciences and vice-chairman of BGS Global Hospital.
‘‘Teachers should notice such behavioural issues and ensure regular exposure to nature. It should become part of the school curriculum”.
Many city schools say they have taken note of NDD already and have included nature camps and trails in the curriculum. ‘‘We realised that Internet-era children are becoming couch potatoes, so we are making it a policy to take them out on nature trails and have, in fact, included it in our school curriculum. Children stay overnight at a farm and learn about diary farming and see how vegetables are grown. We have noticed a drastic change in their attitudes after such activities,’’ says Mansoor Ali Khan, a member of the board of Delhi Public School (DPS) Bengaluru.
Other schools, such as Vidya Niketan, Vidyashilp and Stonehill School, also say they have their children enroll for nature camps every year.
‘‘We do conduct educational trips, including nature trails and one-day outings to herbal gardens, as it is very important for parents and institutions to expose children to nature. These days, children are so ‘cooked up’ in apartments, it leads to many disorders, including NDD,’’ Nalini Ponnappa, principal of Vidya Niketan School, Hebbal, said.
Ronny Gulati, founder of Youreka, which conducts nature camps and trails for schools in the city and across the country, says, "We have been conducting Youreka for Schools programmes (YFS) for children between 9 and 17 years of age at our nature camps spread across the country. These camps and the itinerary is designed by experts. It helps tackle NDD.’’
“This disorder encompasses many mental health issues and affects overall development of the child. The education system needs to be looked into as the brain is getting conditioned to a different atmosphere. Parents should realise that not everything can be learnt through computers and gadgets,’’ Dr. Venkataramanaa says....