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Teens and Nature - Stage of Life Trend Report

Teen and Nature Trend Report on StageofLife.comTeens and Nature - Trends, Statistics and Essays

This is the teen trend summary report about Nature for the national survey and blogging contest from StageofLife.com's Teens and Nature Writing Contest. 

  • 4,442 teens and college students visited the Stage of Life student writing contest page during this month's writing prompt from over 72 countries and 50 US states.
  • 232 students fully answered the nature survey (results below)
  • 88 students submitted a qualifying writing contest essay about nature (see below for essay links)

The idea for this teen writing contest prompt came from Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods.

According to Mr. Louv, today's children (and adults) are deprived of a basic necessity we have as humans...to connect with the outdoors.  Louv labels this phenomenon (that many saw happening but couldn't quite articulate): "nature-deficit disorder." 

Between jobs, Facebook, online gaming, or bad weather, many teens will forgo opportunities to feel the grass beneath their toes, to breath in a summer breeze, to let sun touch their skin, and to otherwise connect with the planet around them.

It's a sad truth but many people, especially teenagers, are spending too much time inside and not enough time outside.  To get teens and college students thinking about this idea of man connecting with nature, for our summer 2012 writing contest, StageofLife.com asked students to submit a 300-500 word essay answering the question...

"How has nature inspired you?"


The writing contest prize included a Stage of Life SWAG package that contained a SIGNED copy of Richard Louv's book.  We thank Mr. Louv and his publicist for working with us on our student writing contest and prompt.  Stage of Life hosts a national teen writing contest each month.


PART I - TEENS & NATURE SURVEY RESULTS

Before submitting their essay, teens were asked to complete a short survey about their attitudes towards nature.  232 teens answered the nature survey.

Key learnings from this teen survey concluded that teens are concerned about their connection to nature, but there's often a dichotomy between how they feel and what their actions are.

  • Stage of Life Teens and Nature Survey Results73.3% of teens went outside more as an Elementary student than now, as a High School student
  • 58.6% of teens have grown up with a parent who had/has an outdoor hobby or took the family outside on regular basis
  • 76.7% of teens would rather check out nature on a hike than check out friends' statuses on Facebook for an hour
  • 69.4% of teens would rather listen to their favorite songs on an iPod (or other music device) than the sounds of nature
  • 88.8% of teens feel that teens today are disconnected with nature
  • 68.5% of teens are either indifferent, don't care, or care but don't take an active role in being concerned about the effects of man on nature
  • 58.6% of teens have not studied or read anything about Transcendentalism or Transcendentalist authors (like Emerson or Thoreau) either on their own or in English / Language Arts class
  • 82.3% of teens say they could live in a cabin in the woods without technology (no cell phone, computer, internet/Facebook, music, movies, TV, or video games) for longer than a week
  • 73.3% of teens have not heard of the term, "Anthropocene" (how man is effecting the planet's biodiversity and nature) before the Stage of Life writing contest
  • 30.1% of teens spend less than three (3) hours per week outdoors during the school year (whether that's for work, sports, or a hobby)
  • 80.6% of teens take a family trip or vacation during the summer that centers around nature, e.g. camping, going to the beach, etc.
  • 53.7% of teens consider themselves an "outside" person verses an "inside" person, 
PRINT PDF results of the teens and nature survey data

PART II - TEEN NATURE ESSAY THEMES

After the survey, students submitted their essay to the StageofLife.com writing contest.  From the 88 qualifying teen essay submissions, several themes and trends emerged about how students feel about nature:

  1. High School Student TrendsTechnology: Almost all teens agreed that their peers (and probably themselves) spend too much time on the computer or on their phones. Nature is a much more interesting place; teens should log off, if just for an hour, and go spend it outside!
  2. Memories: Teens wrote about fond memories, both past and recent, about time spent in nature: family vacations (some forced, some fun), sports activities, and even just relaxing with the trees. Clearly, all teens have been touched by nature.
  3. Life-Changing: Quite a few teens wrote about how their experiences with nature changed their lives in some way. From something as simple as caring more about the environment, to deeper issues about spirituality and friendship, nature is close to these teens’ hearts.
  4. Environmental Issues: These teens agreed that all people need to treat nature with respect. After all, we love our mother; why not mother earth?
  5. Peaceful and Simple: These were the words most used to describe nature. Nature does not boast and is always willing to listen; it is not complicated and always around. So what are you waiting for? Shut off your computer and enjoy the peace and simplicity of nature!

READ THE ESSAYS

Immediately below, you'll find links to the StageofLife.com winning essay, our runners-up, semi-finalists and scores of other essays from college students and teenagers about nature and nature deficit disorder.  Please take a few moments to read an essay or two. If you have the time, make a comment on the responses you enjoyed the most.  We know the student writers will love hearing your positive input (they'll get an email notifying them if you comment on their writing contest entry).

Essay Contest WinnersEssay Winner:

Runners-Up (in no particular order):
Semi-Finalists (in no particular order):
  1. Nature: It Brings Me Peace by laurelx96 (Teens should be relaxing in the sun, not inside)
  2. Nature: iNature—What Does it Mean for Us? by MousyNona (We currently live in the Anthropocene—the age of man)
  3. Nature: Something to be experienced, not seen by emilykaufman (When people want to experience something, they first go online) 
  4. Nature: Real Life in HD by lizink (Technology belongs in our life, but sometimes we need to turn off the power and go outside)
  5. Nature: The element of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers by 000025731 (This teen loves the mountains and skiing)
  6. Nature: It will not lose to us by kchang (Personifying nature)
  7. Nature: The Treasure of Memories by Agoi77 (A teen reflects on her memories of nature as a child)
  8. Nature: Can Feelings Change? by kaela13nicole (Her sister helped change her perspective on nature and camping)
  9. Nature: A New Me by Monica (Her life’s ambition changed very quickly after spending time in nature)
  10. Nature: The First, Yet Best, Teacher of Man by cdeviraji (Nature is our mother)
  11. Nature: Waterfalls and Adventures by zenarein (Nature is best experienced in person)
  12. Nature: Use it, don’t abuse it by proskaterlol (Humans should treat nature like its mother)
  13. Nature: We Don’t Need Grass Beneath Our Feet by jkim4 (An environment of ideas, like New York City, is more important than an environment)
  14. Nature: brings out a simpler life by OliviaZZZ5 (She prefers Skyping to being outdoors, but she also doesn’t neglect nature)
  15. Nature: My Black, White, Red, Blue, Wild Backyard by 13jbeed (She moved across the world during her life)
  16. Nature: It’s a Necessity for Teens to Reconnect with Nature by thewildyouth (Being outdoors makes this teen feel better)
  17. Nature: The giver of change and hope by wolflover16 (Her family employs those with little education to work on their farm)


All Qualifying Teen Nature Essays

Nature essays written by Stage of Life teen writers (grouped by theme):

Nature VS Technology

  1. Nature: Error 2012: Teen is Having Difficulty Connecting to Nature; Please Retry Later by jerryeight (Teens are too connected to technology and not connected enough with nature)

  2. Nature: Missing the Simplicity of Nature in the Complexity of our Modern Society by nfkhan (Nothing is simple about our society)

  3. Nature: It Brings Me Peace by laurelx96 (Teens should be relaxing in the sun, not inside)

  4. Nature: iNature—What Does it Mean for Us? by MousyNona (We currently live in the Anthropocene—the age of man)

  5. Nature: Making the Anthropocene Epoch a Better One by jasonkchang96 (Today’s technologies are mostly environmentally friendly)

  6. Nature: People not caring anymore by shanelamba (People are obsessed with technology and spend less time in nature)

  7. Nature: Its value is under-appreciated by iateyourflan (This teen envisions a future of both technology and nature)

  8. Nature: The thing that has no cost, but a lot of value by ayadawa (What is technology didn’t exist?)

  9. Nature: Change & One of the Few by charlie.lockyer94 (Teens’ entertainment has moved indoors)

  10. Nature: The truth behind staying indoors by kat (Some teens don’t play outside for fear of crime and sunburn)

  11. Nature: Inspecting Flowers by taylorroelofs (Get outside this summer, whether you are two or twenty-two!)

  12. Nature: Something to be experienced, not seen by emilykaufman (When people want to experience something, they first go online)

  13. Nature: Facebook Has Become the New Outside by Lifexlove (This teen doesn’t have a Facebook)

  14. Nature: Real Life in HD by lizink (Technology belongs in our life, but sometimes we need to turn off the power and go outside)

  15. Nature: The Unappreciated Necessity by geopositron2 (Nature is intricately intertwined in our life)

Nature is Magical

  1. Nature: The element of the natural world, as mountains, trees, animals, or rivers by 000025731 (This teen loves the mountains and skiing)

  2. Nature: Where Magic Happens by Chan07 (This teen had a magical moment with wind as a child)

  3. Nature: Blending in with Beauty by kmurphy91 (This teen thinks outdoors time for children should be mandatory)

  4. Nature: In the eyes of the beholder by AGirlsLife (This teen fondly remembers family trips)

  5. Nature: My Muse and Medium by edward.hendrickson (This teen lived in the desert)

  6. Nature: My fantasy world by princess madihah (This teen loves the freedom in nature)

  7. Nature: Pursuing Life’s Purpose by TUBBOS (He seeks comfort in nature when everything goes wrong)

  8. Nature: It will not lose to us by kchang (Personifying nature)

  9. Nature: The Treasure of Memories by Agoi77 (A teen reflects on her memories of nature as a child)

  10. Nature: My dad made me see the beauty of nature by sburrows (This teen loved her family time at Ocean City, MD)

  11. Nature: Simple Things by bigham8 (This teen has a “nature spot”)

  12. Nature: The Catharsis of First Snow by doedeer (This teen finds solace in snow)

  13. Nature: My Family plus the National Park Service equals the Love of Nature by naturelover32 (Her family took many outdoor vacations)

  14. Nature: A Necessity for a Happy Life by rdoublet (Not all can appreciate nature for all it’s worth)

  15. Nature: The pathway to thinking by laugh.lots.21 (Experiences in nature through her lifetime)

  16. Nature: Can Feelings Change? by kaela13nicole (Her sister helped change her perspective on nature and camping)

  17. Nature: The True Perfection by PurviGoel (This teen is sad others don’t have her experiences in nature)

  18. Nature: Blinks of time by goldendroplets (Nature brings great happiness)

  19. Nature: Essential Freedom is Waiting by lkfelton (Nature is calming and peaceful)

  20. Nature: Kayaks are Birds by jmclau17 (Kayaking is the closest this teen has ever come to flying)

  21. Nature: The Masterwork by ving (This teen appreciates the trees)

  22. Nature: A Reinvigorating Inspiration by JeremyQuach (Whenever this teen hits a writer’s block, he wanders outside)

  23. Nature: My Inspiration by rightwriter (This teen’s favorite season is spring)

  24. Nature: My oldest friend by jending (Even the best words cannot do nature justice)

Nature is Life-Changing

  1. Nature: At the Pool by xcswim2012 (Different perspectives can change everything)

  2. Nature: My Walden Stands No Longer by marialynn (This teen and her sister had “built” a cabin in the woods a la Walden)

  3. Nature: My Haven of Hope by Hope (This teen’s life was changed by a trip to southern Israel)

  4. Nature: Meant to be There by MikkiB326 (This teen spent some time in nature on a recent youth group retreat)

  5. Nature: Consumed in Nature by Pranav9 (He realized nature’s glory on a forced family vacation)

  6. Nature: From Windows XP to windows reality by irene.augustin.3 (This teen’s life changed when she moved in with her aunt)

  7. Nature: A New Me by Monica (Her life’s ambition changed very quickly after spending time in nature)

  8. Nature: My teacher by nikitasaha12 (Planting taught her a valuable life lesson: patience)

  9. Nature: My new best friend by m_esguerra (This teen is doing an internship with a local farm)

  10. Nature: Inspiration by asdfghjkl (This teen found comfort at a lake)

  11. Nature: A Great Lesson by justinshieh (He found an important message in climbing mountains)

  12. Nature: Finding Answers by permutations (This teen ponders life in the woods)

  13. Nature: Outside of Nature by claireyun (Nature is the source of our life)

  14. Nature: The First, Yet Best, Teacher of Man by cdeviraji (Nature is our mother)

  15. Nature: Waterfalls and Adventures by zenarein (Nature is best experienced in person)

  16. Nature: Past Becomes Present and Future by RCB (This teen claims to have been outside more often than many other teens his/her age)

Nature and Religion

  1. Nature: Humbled By His Work by jessieanneday (This teen feels touched by her god’s work)

  2. Nature: What You Can Get From It All by ElleSommerville (She found god on a camping trip)

  3. Nature: A Work of Art by emily9460 (“The earth is god’s canvas”)

  4. Nature: Quiet Not Included by unsimplysara (This teen hears god’s voice in nature)

Environmental Issues (Pollution, Forestry, etc.)

  1. Nature: Standing Up for the Earth by alexandreamer (Stop the corruption of nature)

  2. Nature: Breathes its most blessed gift by Roselle (This teen volunteers for environmentally-friendly organizations)

  3. Nature: Use it, don’t abuse it by proskaterlol (Humans should treat nature like its mother)

  4. Nature: Save It! by Sketcha (People need to come to their senses and stop littering)

  5. Nature: Moments in the Wetlands by Papples (This teen saw firsthand the adverse affects humans have on nature)

  6. Nature: The Forgotten Mother by a_n_a_r_i_12 (Teens need to appreciate nature or, like a neglected mother, she will wither away)

Nature is “Okay”

  1. Nature: Boring but Interesting by xthelocust (As a flute player, this teen plays many songs about nature)

  2. Nature: We Don’t Need Grass Beneath Our Feet by jkim4 (An environment of ideas, like New York City, is more important than an environment)

  3. Nature: brings out a simpler life by OliviaZZZ5 (She prefers Skyping to being outdoors, but she also doesn’t neglect nature)

  4. Nature: Crying For Me by Cassie42711 (She doesn’t really understand the beauty of nature, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t try)

Nature and Stories

  1. Nature: The Bridge and the Stream by mattormseth (A tale about a man’s feelings about nature)

  2. Nature: The Joy of Summer Vacation by curtism508 (This teen relishes time spent swimming in her pool… especially after schoolwork is done)

  3. Nature: A Solemn Tale of Remembrance by dyu (This teen misses her past in the park)

  4. Nature: Forever Beauty Hardly Caught by DenverGold (This teen loves jogging)

  5. Nature: The tradition, the importance, and the creation by Charktheshark95 (Thoughts on nature followed by a poem)

  6. Nature: My Black, White, Red, Blue, Wild Backyard by 13jbeed (She moved across the world during her life)

  7. Nature: Why it means so much to me by ashanti_writes_15 (This teen recently broke both of her legs in a soccer game)

  8. Nature: A lost art? by soccer16 (This teen plays soccer and lives on a farm)

  9. Nature: You are Cordially Invited to a Nature Walk by jessicaqu407 (This teen wakes early to exercise with her family)

  10. Nature: It’s a Necessity for Teens to Reconnect with Nature by thewildyouth (Being outdoors makes this teen feel better)

  11. Nature: Contemplations at the Swing Set by SRodeo (Deep thoughts on being a teen in nature)

  12. Nature: Learning to live with the urban cougar by madeline.woods.77 (A wild cougar roams through her town)

  13. Nature: The giver of change and hope by wolflover16 (Her family employs those with little education to work on their farm)

  14. Nature: In Touch with the Stars by AliceInNeverland (The sky was this teen’s companion through three moves)

  15. Nature: JAWS, the experience of a lifetime by jaws4lyfe (This teen does dragon boating)

  16. Nature: My source of solace and inspiration by mere_z (Running is her release)

  17. Nature: The dreaded fishing trip by Elizabeth (She fishes as a token to her grandfather)

  18. Nature: The Conduit to the Unknown by lavanya.bakshi.3 (Once we understand nature, we understand ourselves)

  19. Nature: Go with the Flow by qhdud9573 (Trust nature)

Writing Contest Archive - Students

Past Writing Contests and Teen Trend Reports

StageofLife.com Student Writing Contests

Below you will find all of our past writing contests and teen trend reports from the last four years. Feel free to click through and read the top essay submissions from any given month.  StageofLife.com is honored to be one of the most-visited writing contests for students in the world.  We love working with teachers, teens, and college students as we celebrate the journey as life-long readers and writers...

2014 Writing Contests

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2012 Writing Contests

2011 Writing Contests

 2010 Writing Contests

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StageofLife.com is an education-based, grassroots, non-partisan, free blogging community with a mission support digital literacy by making the world a better place, one story, essay, and blog at a time.  Stage of Life users (teens, college students, Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) can share and archive their life stories via their Stage of Life profile page.  Specialized content includes literacy resources, free lesson plans, writing prompts for Language Arts teachers, monthly writing contests for high school students (and older generations), student blogging initiatives, blog directories, and financial literacy tools - including Life Rewards® - our free discount program for all Stage of Life users, readers and writers dedicated to providing printable coupons and coupon codes tailored towards each stage of life.

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