A study suggests that children may be powerful agents of change when it comes to environmental issues particularly on the subject of energy efficiency. Compared to their parents kids are more likely to accept the veracity of climate change and they are more likely to act on this knowledge. It therefore makes sense that children are able to share both their awareness and their propensity for action with their parents.
This is an effective way to get through to parents who are skeptical regarding the science of global warming and its logical corollary climate action. This is the gist of a Washington Post article titled, “The best way to teach adults to save energy might be through their children,” by Chelsea Harvey.
As Harvey explains, “its hard to get people to change their habits, even when doing so could have lasting benefits for the environment.”
She cites research which shows that the chances of getting through to adults on energy saving improves when kids are the delivery system.
A study involving 30 California Girl Scout troops, found that these kids were effective advocates of energy saving with both their parents and other children. The study shows that these kids were able to foster “concrete behavioral changes lasting for months.” This makes the point that “youth-oriented environmental programs can have a
tangible impact on entire families.”
The study published in the journal Nature Energy draws on social cognitive theory.
The underlying assumption in this theory is that social interactions can alter behaviors.
The potential applications of this theory extend far beyond energy savings.Behaviors can be changed through thingss like modeling and setting goals.
The study’s lead author, Hilary Boudet, a sociologist at Oregon State University and colleagues from Stanford University designed a study which showed how the theory could be used to encourage sustainable behaviors.
This included residential energy-saving behaviors, such as turning off
lights when leaving rooms. Residential energy use declined in both the children and their parents. These effects were also long-lasting. The study documented energy savings of up to 5 percent per year per household translating to more than 300 pounds of avoided carbon dioxide emissions.
Although food and transportation did not see much behavioral change, there was a noticeable increase in energy-saving behaviors.
While this study presents evidence that children can play a key role in the long-term transition to a more sustainable world Boudet suggests that for maximum effect it would be a good idea to implement programs targeting a number of different age groups.
Make sure to see the article titled, “Comprehensive Green School Information and Resources.” It contains links to over 325 articles covering everything you need to know about sustainable academics, student eco-initiatives, green school buildings, and college rankings as well as a wide range of related information and resources.