Teens + Nature

Teenagers feel less connected to nature than children and adults, study finds

A widely publicized survey of over 2,000 people in the United Kingdom asked respondents to complete measures designed to assess an individual’s engagement with the outdoors such as the Connection to Nature Index (CNI) and the Nature-Relatedness Scale (NR-6). The study found that connection declines from childhood to a low in the mid teens, followed by a rise in the early 20s and reaching a plateau that lasts a lifetime.

And yet nature offers many benefits to young people

California State Parks: A Valuable Resource for Youth Health, by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability presented a comprehensive review of the literature on parks, nature, and human health. Their findings:Stargazing at Fernandez Ranch

  • Living near a park is associated with less screen time and increases in physical activity, leading to a wide range of health benefits.
  • Time spent in parks results in improvements in mood and overall well-being, increased energy, and relaxation.
  • Time spent in parks can contribute to attention restoration, reduces symptoms of attention deficit disorders, improves cognitive function, and reduces problem behaviors in young children.
  • Park use substantially reduces the negative effects of stress.
  • Programs to encourage young people to make park use part of their lives are cost-effective investments to advance health equity goals.

Download the UCLA report on California State Parks and Youth Health (PDF)

Additional resources:

Nature a turn-off for teenagers, study finds, Environmental Journal

A Measure of Nature Connectedness for Children and Adults: Validation, Performance, and Insights, MDPI

Teenagers feel less connected to nature than children and adults, study finds, envirobites