Lonely Bench in Forest, originally posted by Eszter

A new study finds Americans are getting into the Great Outdoors 25% less than they did in 1987, with the decline continuing at about 1% every year.

The study measured attendance to National Parks, hiking and camping permits, and getting a license to hunt or fish, and say a new national epidemic of “videophilia” – a focus on “sedentary activities involving electronic media,” may be to blame.

Although the folks at the GOBlog take this to humorous heart, I can’t imagine it’s the primary cause of this decline.

I’m a gamer, myself, and I got into the Outdoors on my own accord well after I’d already been indoctrinated into the joy of various-bit gaming systems. We gamers have had our pasttime blamed for everything from obesity to school shootings to the Downfall of Civilization, itself, so I’m not surprised that they’re also being blamed for keeping kids indoors.

There’s probably a laundry list of reasons why people don’t get outdoors as much anymore – but I’d say that the media’s sensationalizing of the Dangers of Nature does more damage than video games and Google ever will. You’ll catch a cold if you go outside. Or maybe even the plague. Or you’ll get a tick and catch Lyme disease. Or you’ll get mauled by a mountain lion. Or eaten by a bear. Or murdered. What parent wouldn’t want their kids staying in the living room with all that Evil out in the woods?

Maybe what we really need is to stop attacking straw men and start reintroducing the appreciation of the Great Outdoors into our educational curriculum. Teach more environmental science. Show kids how important it is to preserve wilderness in their own communities. Teach about the history of the National Park System – a revolutionary idea that grew up right here in the good ol’ US of A. Show students how survival skills serve both a practical and emotional utility.

Oh, and let’s show them adults value the outdoors by not dumping trash all over it, shooting soot into the air, or closing down a fifth of your state’s parks.

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