Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Technology and the Outdoors


We want to get kids outside, away from the television, computers and video games.

Can we do that by using those same items of technology to help lure them outside?

I know a number of folks that say the only way to engage kids now is to infuse technology into kid's outdoor experiences. Using a GPS or video camera are good examples of this. But what about using the internet to introduce kids to a wild place, like Grand Teton National Park? The Park Service is trying this out at GTNP and other locations with efforts like video podcasting and what they call "webisodes".

Here's a recent story that describes what they're doing.

I'm still on the fence on this, but I'm sure that going the way my Luddite friends want to go, which is: "get the kids out like we got out, we don't need any technology, ever" may not always work. On the other hand, I'm intrigued by Lowell Monke thoughts on this-- he once said "throw out the computers and give the kids shovels!" There are prices to pay for a reliance on technology.

It does seem that many kids today view technology as more than an accessory, and that shows a root of the nature deficit problem , but also gives opportunities on ways to reconnect the kids, as long as we don't forget our real goal.

Let's give the NPS a chance to show if these new tools do in fact get kids back outside in the Parks.