According to a new study, children who increased their connection to nature during COVID lockdowns have lower levels of emotional and behavioural problems. The study led by researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Sussex, also found that children from affluent families tended to have increased their connection to nature during the pandemic more than their less affluent peers.
An increased connection to nature was reflected in children spending time gardening, playing in the backyard or doing physical activities outdoors. This was commonly linked to having more time available for these activities during the lockdown.
The study used an online survey to collect responses from 376 families in the UK, with children between three and seven years old. Over half of these families reported that their child's connection to nature increased during the first COVID-19 lockdown. The remaining parents whose children's connection to nature decreased or stayed the same during this period also reported that their children were experiencing a problem of well-being and increased sadness or anxiety.
This study strengthens the case for nature as an important resource of mental health support for children and suggests that more efforts should be made to support children in connecting with nature - both at home and at school.