We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
My parents meant well. Half an hour of TV a week; vacations that consisted mostly of bird-watching and hiking up steep hills; an elaborate backyard jungle gym. They wanted my brothers and me outside as much as possible—partly because they wanted us out of their hair, I’m sure, but mostly because they knew what was good for us. Richard Louv knows it, too, and he knows that kids today aren’t getting it. In Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, Louv coins a nifty new term to describe the plight of today’s children, who spend an average 30 hours a week in front of the TV or computer, and whose back yard is increasingly more difficult to play in. Now standing in a kid’s way of getting out of the house are disease-carrying critters, parks full of creepy strangers and discarded needles, and community regulations against outdoor play—not to mention that there’s just not enough time anymore for a game of catch or a bike ride. The result? A 20 percent childhood-obesity rate, preschoolers on Prozac, and ADHD. Nothing’s official, but Louv argues that an easy way to improve our kids’ emotional and physical health is to reunite them with the world outside their PlayStations. Of course, my parents did it all by the book, and the first thing I did when I moved out was to buy a TV and plant myself in front of it. But I thank them for their good intentions. Commune with Louv when he reads at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919.