More and more we are locking ourselves away in our house bubbles watching TV, DVDs, on the internet and playing video games. Nature is having a hard time competing with virtual reality for our attention :
It's not a fair fight. How can a stretch of not-so-majestic bushland ever hope to compete with Halo 3 or a DVD box set of the Trailer Park Boys?
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.
"Declining nature participation has crucial implications for current conservation efforts," wrote co-authors Oliver R. W. Pergams and Patricia A. Zaradic. "We think it probable than any major decline in the value placed on natural areas and experiences will greatly reduce the value people place on biodiversity conservation."
"The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia has far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children," Pergams said in a statement. "Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders and poor academic performance."
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.