Yes, you read the headline correctly.
And yes, it means exactly what it looks like it means.
Nature-Deficit Disorder is not a clinically diagnosed disease. It is, however, a rather clever name for a disturbing trend towards "denatured childhood" and the alarming affects that can result from such a condition.
The phrase was coined by Richard Louv in his fascinating book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.Louv points out
that today's children no longer spend long summer afternoons running through the woods, playing in fields, or camping under the stars. Instead, they are at home playing video games, watching movies, surfing the web, or engaging in other indoor activities.
I've witnessed this myself when I go home to my parent's house for Christmas and am surprised every year by the absolute dearth of kids playing in the street with their new toys. Christmas morning is a ghost town--outdoors, at least. If I peer through the neighbor's windows, however, I can see all the kids huddled around TVs or computer screens, bug-eyed and brain dead. Frankly, I find it very depressing.
So what's the harm in spending less and less time outdoors in nature?
Louv argues that the exposure to nature is necessary for cognitive development and without a heavy dosage of it, children are more prone to suffer from depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, stress, and, of course, obesity.