An article in the Christian Science Monitor claims that videogames are one of the main factors behind declining attendance at national parks in the U.S.
While the article also cites other influences, including rising gasoline prices and increased parental concern over free-roaming children, videogames and gizmo-based activities such as text messaging, computer use and television are listed as the primary causes of “couch potato kids,” who have little interest in going outside. “I think it’s a generational change,” said Yosemite visitor Susan Campos, who comes to the park several times a year with her two daughters. “We had more of a sense of adventure and we didn’t have to have entertainment provided. Kids get bored much more easily.”
According to the article, federal officials across the country are launching programs to fight what they call a “nature deficit disorder.” The National Wildlife Federation is promoting a “Green Hour” program, intended to get kids outside for an hour a day of unstructured playtime, while the state of Michigan recently declared a “No Student Life Inside” day. The U.S. Forest Service has also launched a program, entitled “Kids in the Woods,” which provides grants to support outdoor education programs and overnight trips.