Kids and Technology - Nature vs Nurture?
Media and digital devices are an integral part of our world today. The benefits of these devices, if used moderately and appropriately, can be great. But, research has shown that face-to-face time with family, friends, and teachers plays a pivotal and even more important role in promoting children's learning and healthy development. Keep the face-to-face up front, and don't let it get lost behind a stream of media and tech.
EDUCATION – “First-hand experiences… can help to make subjects more vivid and interesting for
pupils and enhance their understanding… [and] could make an important contribution to pupils’
future economic wellbeing and to preparing them for the next stage of their lives.” (Ofsted, 2008)
HEALTH AND WELLBEING – “Children increase their physical activity levels when outdoors and are
attracted to nature… All children with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder] may benefit
from more time in contact with nature…” (Bird, 2007)
PERSONAL AND SOCIAL SKILLS – “Experience of the outdoors and wild adventure space has the
potential to confer a wide range of benefits on young people… Development of a positive self-image,
confidence in one’s abilities and experience of dealing with uncertainty can be important in helping
young people face the wider world and develop enhanced social skills.” (Ward Thompson et al,
2006) The findings are presented according to the separate areas of benefit shown above, but there
is a great deal of overlap between these areas and the benefits reinforce and catalyse each other.
This not only highlights the extent of the positive impacts on children and young people that contact
with nature can have, but also the broader effects these impacts have on schools, communities and
society. A list of the key research and books discussed is included at the end of the report to provide
a starting point from which you can find out more information.
Another study defines the outcomes of learning outdoors as “changes in thinking, feeling and/or
behaviour resulting directly or indirectly from outdoor education” (Dillon et al, 2005). It identifies
four specific types of impact: COGNITIVE IMPACTS – concerning knowledge, understanding and
other academic outcomes. AFFECTIVE IMPACTS – encompassing attitudes, values, beliefs and selfperceptions. INTERPERSONAL AND SOCIAL IMPACTS – including communication skills, leadership and
teamwork. PHYSICAL AND BEHAVIOURAL IMPACTS – relating to physical fitness, physical skills,
personal behaviours and social actions. Looking more closely at cognitive impacts, “both students
and their teachers reported increases in knowledge and understanding as a result of experiences in
the outdoor classroom. Whenever students were asked about their learning, they were generally
able to explain something that they had seen, learned or understood on the visits… Developments in
knowledge and understanding appeared to be from across a range of cognitive domains” (Dillon et