Factors associated with nature connectedness in school-aged children

Date

2022-02-02

Advisors

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Elsevier

Type

Article

Peer reviewed

Yes

Abstract

Increasing people's sense of connectedness to nature has the potential to be a powerful tool in driving pro-conservation behaviours, as well as improving physical and mental health. Multi-age cross-sectional studies have shown that nature connectedness significantly dips after early childhood before recovering in adulthood. However, the precise pattern of this age-related decline is not well-described or understood. We conducted a questionnaire survey of children living on the island of Jersey, Channel Islands, using the Nature Connection Index (NCI) to identify biological, behavioural and social factors associated with nature connectedness levels. Using an information-theoretic approach, we analysed data from 17% of all Jersey's children aged between 7-18 years (N=1872) to investigate the effects of age, gender, school location and funding type. NCI levels were consistently higher in girls than in boys, and declined with age in both sexes into the early teens. Children attending schools in urban areas, particularly at primary level, had a lower mean NCI than those in rural locations. In adolescents (11-18 years), self-reported daily screen time was negatively correlated with NCI scores. Most students reported that their home was the place they preferred to relax, but the majority chose a natural environment as their favourite place. Our results confirm the marked decline in nature connectedness after early childhood but also point to interventions that may help reduce this deterioration, with associated wellbeing and behaviour change benefits.

Description

Open Access article

Keywords

Nature Connectedness, Wellbeing, Children, Pro-nature behaviours

Citation

Price, E., Maguire, S., Firth, C., Lumber, R., Richardson, M. and Young, R. (2022) Factors associated with nature connectedness in school-aged children. Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, 100037

Rights

Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science