Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Wired News: Nature Giving Way to Virtual Reality

"As people spend more time communing with their televisions and computers, the impact is not just on their health, researchers say. Less time spent outdoors means less contact with nature and, eventually, less interest in conservation and parks.

Camping, fishing and per capita visits to parks are all declining in a shift away from nature-based recreation, researchers report in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
Wow...It seems that Richard Louv was correct. In his book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Kids from Nature Deficit Disorder, Louv spoke of precisely the same issues that are covered in the Wired article. One of these is the decline in national state park visits. From the article:

"By studying visits to national and state park and the issuance of hunting and fishing licenses the researchers documented declines of between 18 percent and 25 percent in various types of outdoor recreation.

The decline, found in both the United States and Japan, appears to have begun in the 1980s and 1990s, the period of rapid growth of video games, they said."

Now I can't say that I think the declines are caused by kids playing video games, but I definitely buy into what is being written about kids spending less time outdoors. And it scares me to death that this is leading to less of a concern for nature and conservation. Hopefully, parents will catch wind of studies like this and books like Louv's and provide their kids with more experiences like the one I wrote about this past summer.

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Mike Frerichs said...

As usual you are right on the mark. The lack of contact with nature is a real problem for today's generation. When we visit our home in Alaska, the lifestyle is totally different. In Two Rivers, Alaska, the children live outdoors. They know how to take care of themselves in adverse conditions, and they respect the natural world.

The challenge for us, as educators, is to use Web 2.0 to bring students back into an interest in nature. For example, my friend Aliy Zirkle, an Iditarod musher, has an excellent blog describing her daily live. http://spkenneldoglog.blogspot.com/ Our students follow her and the Iditarod each year. Hopefully, this will create an interest in the outdoors. The next best thing we can do is lead by example. You obviously do that. I try to set an example as well. In two weeks, I'll be doing the Birkebeiner in Hayward, WI. This year, I'll be posting photos and comments for students to follow on my blog. Let's hope the trend can be reversed.

Anonymous said...

I share your concerns, James, and after digging around on the Nature Conservancy web site I was further -- I don't know, alarmed, I guess -- at our need to start (gulp) marketing nature. I blogged about that here:


keep on fighting the good fight!

misterteacher said...


You have some awesome ideas. I try to take photos during my trips with the intention of using them in my class.

We have a couple "natural" areas near where I teach. When it gets warm, I plan to take my students to them so that they can get some actual exposure to the outdoors.