what's keeping children from interacting with nature?
Parents perception of time, or lack there of, is a strong indicator of children’s actual time in nature.
of parents say they lack the time to take children outdoors.
of parents say their children lack time to go outdoors.
of parents say there are no adults available to take children outside.
Changes in how children and families spend time impacts the time available to spend in nature.
amount of time humans have spent in nature, historically (Johnson, Snow, Lawrence, & Rainham, 2019).
increase in children’s time spent studying between 1981 – 1997 (Louv, R. 2006).
increase in children’s time spent in organized sports between 1981 – 1997 (Louv, R., 2006).
Actual time restrictions impacting parents or children’s time in nature.
average amount today’s children are using a screen (outside of school) (Nature of Americans, 2019).
average amount today’s children are participating in organized sports or activities on average (Nature of Americans, 2019).
average amount today’s children spend outdoors, usually as part of a trip from one location to another (Johnson, Snow, Lawrence & Rainham, 2019)
average amount today’s children outside in free play (Children & Nature Network, 2022)
of parents are very or extremely concerned about their child’s safety outdoors (Nature of Americans, 2019).
In 1970, a child was allowed to roam independently about 5000 feet from home (or about 1 mile), on average. The blue circle represents the area a child was allowed to go in 1970.
The average number of feet recommended between urban nature areas is 1,000 to 3,000 feet. As depicted in the diagram, a radius of 5,000 feet encompasses around 20 different green spaces. This was typical across much of the city, as Chicago claims 5% of the city is natural areas.
As of 1990, children were allowed to roam just 11% of the space they were allowed in 1970, so about 500 sq ft from home. The red circle represents this area. As shown in the model, this radius encompasses zero green spaces – and would encompass zero green spaces from many different points on the map.
This is a 4-mile section of the city of Chicago.
The blue circle has a radius of 1 mile from the black house in the center.
© Caity Peterson 2022