A new UBCO study says kids benefit from taking technology outdoors.—contributed

Kids, the great outdoors and technology

UBCO study says send your kids outside but let them take their electronic devices

It may seem counter-intuitive to many parents, but a UBC researcher says children are able to engage in nature and have fun outside, even with a mobile device in their hands.

Maxine Crawford, a PhD candidate in psychology at UBC’s Okanagan campus, said today’s parents seem to struggle with getting their technology-addicted children outside—without their devices. Indeed, Canadian children in Grades 6 to 12 spend more than seven hours a day in front of some form of screen. But Crawford said all is not lost, and getting children to engage with nature is not impossible.

“Allowing children to use technology when in nature may seem counter-active when the goal is to increase their connection to the outdoors. But many children are already using technology in this way, whether we like it or not,” said Crawford. “Honestly, most children would rather be at home with technology than outside without it.”

So why fight a losing battle, she said. In her recently published study, with more than 740 children aged nine to 14 from nine different schools, Crawford determined it is possible for children to enjoy and learn about nature while using an electronic device.

While technology is now an everyday part of environmental education, Crawford said there is little research examining the use of technology in non-formal environmental education—meaning the learning takes place outside of schools, it is not facilitated by a teacher, and children are generally freer to move around.

For her study she had three groups of children with different tasks in different recreation areas. One group was to tour a park with an iPad using an app called Agents of Discovery. Another group toured with a trained park educator, the third group with a paper map. Both the iPad group and the park educator groups spent time identifying and discussing their natural surroundings.

After the tour, the children were asked questions to determine their connection to nature, whether they had fun, their attitude toward the park and if they retained any knowledge of the park’s flora, fauna or ecology. Data was collected for each of the three groups at each of the three park locations (i.e., 292 children at the wetlands park, 223 children at the grasslands park, and 207 children at the indoor tropical gardens).

“All three groups had a significant increase in their connection to nature from before to after the tour. This suggests that the mobile application did not distract the children by taking their attention away from their natural surroundings or impede their connection to nature,” Crawford said.

In fact, according to Crawford, 76 per cent of the children, regardless of group assignment, indicated that they wanted to take better care of the park they had just visited. Their acknowledged commitment to environmental stewardship in conjunction with their significant connection to nature suggests that the students did emotionally connect to their local park.

There was, however, one prominent variance between the three groups.

“One significant difference was how much more fun the children had in the mobile application group,” Crawford added. “This finding is important as enjoyment is crucial for repeat behaviour and fundamental to place-based education.”

Crawford’s research was published in Environment and Behavior and partially funded by Mitacs and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Update: Power restored to 2,000 Lake Country homes

The cause of the outage is unknown

Update: Evacuation alerts rescinded for properties near West Kelowna wildfire

The wildfire near Glenrosa is considered out of control

RDOS: Evacuation order ammended, residents north of Summerland can return home

Properties in the Summerland region still on evacuation alert

Peachland is open for business

Fires keeping away visitors, tourists

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Saturday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

VIDEO: Victoria woman recounts driving past wildfire near Peachland

Jenna Smith compared the fire to an apocalypse movie

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattleā€™s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

RDOS fire update: emergency social services moved

Centre moved to Penticton Memorial Arena for Saturday and Sunday

Race walker breaks 18-year-old BC Games record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Most Read