environments is to be relieved of thestresses of modern living.
Do ubiquitous digital media helpor hinder the benefits of naturalenvironments? Many peoplesuspicious of smartphones andother digital technologies thinkthat for all their utility, they place abarrier between us and the outdoors.
According to a book on nature and
health by Eva Selhub and Alan Logan,
“[I]nstead of stroking the keyboard or
rubbing the belly of your smartphone
screen, you—and the world—will
be better served by petting your
dog.” They also warn that “strolling
through a park while engaging with
Viewing nature “employs the mind
without fatigue and yet exercises
it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens
it,” wrote the pioneering landscape
architect Frederick Law Olmsted [ 1].
It’s good to get outdoors from timeto time and enjoy nature, whetherin the garden, a park, the ruralcountryside, or the wilderness. Art,literature, design, and common senseattest to this. The Arts and Craftsmovement and 20th-century Bauhausmodernism affirmed the place ofnatural materials and natural forms ingood design. But the claims for naturerun even deeper: Nature restoresand revives. To encounter natural
SmartphonesRichard Coyne, the University of Edinburgh
→ There is abundantevidence for therestorative effects ofnatural environments.
→ Some people think thatdigital devices negate thebenefits of being in nature.
→ Smartphones and othertechnologies present tous as “other” than nature,and that’s one of theirmain benefits.
SEPTEMBER–OCTOBER 2014 INTERACTIONS 25