Green and Screen: Does Mobile Photography Enhance or Hinder Our Connection to Nature?
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Barrable, A., & Booth, D. (2020). Green and Screen: Does Mobile Photography Enhance or Hinder Our Connection to Nature? Digital Culture & Education, 12(2). Advance online publication. https://www.digitalcultureandeducation.com/volume-12-2
Connection to nature, which describes the affective, experiential and cognitive aspects of our relationship with the natural world, has been positively associated with increased wellbeing, as well as pro-environmental beliefs and behaviours. It has also been identified as a worthwhile and distinct goal of education, both in terms of environmental education assessment, as well as in broader terms. This short article aims to explore the effect of using mobile technology to enhance our connection to nature, through a short-term intervention. A total of 57 undergraduates (age range 20 - 31) were randomised into two groups and undertook a short walk in urban nature, with the instruction to notice the beauty in nature and note three beautiful things. One of the groups was asked to record these beautiful things using mobile technology (photography, audio or video recording). Pre- and post-activity measures of the nature connection, using the Connection to Nature Scale (CNS) State were taken and analysed. Results showed that although the intervention had an overall positive effect on participants’ connection to nature, technology neither enhanced nor hindered it. Qualitative analysis of participants’ description of the activity shows a largely positive experience. Limitations of this small trial are presented, and the potential to build an application to engage young people with nature, for increased wellbeing and sustainability, is discussed as a future direction.