Travel Trends: The Late, Great Outdoors
For kids, it was a playground opportunity akin to the planets aligning. First of all, it was a Saturday. Second, the sun shone brightly on an unseasonably warm February day. Third, there was this really cool new play structure -- the kind with lots of ingenious moving parts -- that had just been installed on the grounds of the Arlington Arts Center. There was just one thing missing.
Where were all the kids?
The answer, at least according to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, is that they were indoors. Maybe they were playing video games, maybe they were reading or watching TV, but one thing's for sure: the charms of a picture-perfect Arlington Saturday went undiscovered. And it's not just kids who have sworn off the outdoors. After all, who's staring at a computer even as we speak? Why, you are. And chances are that you're completely unaware of the wide world outside your window.
So get up and get out of there -- click off this page, log off, go sit in the sun. But before you do, consider some of the sobering findings unearthed by the NAS.
"Nature recreation worldwide -- from camping, hunting and fishing to park visitation -- has declined sharply since the 1980s, and the negative consequences for nature and conservation could soon be profound," reads the study. The authors note that visits to national parks have declined 23% since 1987, hiking approximately 18% between 2000 and 2005, and fishing approximately 25% between 1981 and 2005. Similar recent studies have shown a decline in participation in tennis, swimming and just about every other sport under the, um, sun.
These findings have consequences for American waistlines, of course, but also many branches of the tourism industry, especially those whose livelihoods depend our continued love of the outdoors. The culprit, as you might expect, is something the study calls "videophilia," the popularity of computers/television/video games that continues to grow among both adults and children, and which began in, you guessed it, the 1980s.
But can this admittedly dramatic decline in outdoor activities really be traced to our obsession with techno-gadgetry? And if so, what do we and our kids stand to lose?
By Scott Vogel |
February 26, 2008; 10:04 AM ET
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Posted by: TreeHugger | February 26, 2008 12:41 PM
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