Children who are more connected to nature are more likely to display sustainable behaviors like pro-ecological behavior, frugality, altruism and equity. As children display more of these behaviors, they are more likely to be happy. These findings were reported in the journal Frontiers today.
These findings are important as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 1.9 million children between the age of 3-17 years have been diagnosed with depression in the United States. Studies such as these provide insights into children who suffer from depression and tools to combat depression in adolescents, teens and children.
Children are the future of this planet. As the world environment continues to deteriorate, it has become essential to find the factors that influence sustainable behaviors in children. There have been multiple studies on what are the determinants of sustainable behavior in adults but the data on children is still scarce.
The researchers did not disclose any source of funding that may have influenced the results of the study. This study’s objective was to understand the relationship between the connection to nature and sustainable behavior, and the eventual impact of both these factors on the children’s happiness.
‘Connectedness to nature’ was a cumulation of 16 items like the pleasure of seeing wildflowers and wild animals, hearing sounds of nature, touching animals and plants, and considering that human beings are part of the natural world. All of the answers were given between a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (totally agree).
‘Sustainable behaviors’ like altruism, equity, frugality and pro-ecological behavior were also assessed as a cumulation of 33 questions divided into different categories. The children were asked questions like whether they gave away used clothing, gave money to the Red Cross, whether they considered different genders equal, did they use their money to buy sweets, did they recycled, saved water or separated garbage at home.
‘Happiness’ was measured according to the Subjective Happiness Scale, where the range of answers included from 1 being not very happy to 7 being very happy.
The participants included 296 children of which 175 were girls. The data was collected from a northwestern Mexican city. The children belonged to different educational grades — fourth, fifth, and sixth.
The study results revealed that children scored average in altruistic, frugal and pro-ecological behaviors. But they had high scores when it came to connectedness to nature and equity. The results revealed that children were content and happy. The children reveled that they believe in equal rights of men and women when it comes to making decisions, men and women can study as much as they want, and rich and poor should be treated the same way.
When the relationships between the three key factors were assessed, the researchers found that there was a positive co-relation between happiness and connectedness to nature. The more likely a child is to be involved with the natural world, more likely is he or she to be happy.
Same relationship was observed between some of the other factors. A happy child was more likely to be altruistic, frugal, show pro-ecological behavior and believe in equity.