Whose fault?

August 1, 2006

A study by The Nature Conservancy blames video games, the Internet and television, among other several factors, for a nine-year decline in visitor traffic at U.S. national parks:

“While more than two dozen variables were tested, (University of Illinois ecologist Oliver Pergams, one of the analysts of the study,) said that video games, home movie rentals, going out to movies, Internet use, and rising fuel prices explained almost 98 percent of the decline in people visiting national parks.”

A report on this study at MaineToday.com generated some interesting explanations.

Is the problem economic? Some people, like “Ed” of Kennebunk, Me., think so. He commented on the article, saying:

“The fact of the matter is simply that there are many many more competing outlets for our ever-shrinking disposable income than ever before.”

Or is it a case of today’s generations going soft and lazy? Here’s how “Jay” of Brunswick, Me., put it:

“I know many, many Baby Boomers who used to camp with a vengeance and have since grown soft and wouldn’t think of roughing it in a tent. And as a result they probably haven’t sufficiently exposed their children to camping. And when they have, the pushback from the more sedentary, computer/video gaming and heavier youth has probably been greater.”

Sure, technology can be a distraction, and that’s a logical explanation for the drop in park attendance. But the problem is more intrinsic.

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