family walking on the beach

Technology versus Natural Environment

Use technology to make the outdoors more fun

With the natural environment under pressure like never before, it’s important to strike a balance between the necessity of technology and the vital need to appreciate the ever-diminishing natural environment. Children are the ones who will pay the price for our inaction and they are the ones who have grown up fully immersed in technology. A recent survey carried out by Hayes Garden World has revealed an increasing widening disparity between technology and the natural world. It doesn’t have to be an ‘either’ ‘or’ situation, we can harness technology to enhance our appreciation of the outdoors, but it is all in the hands of parents; read the blog “Gardening and Nature Apps for Children” which help you harness the technophobe in your child whilst instilling an appreciation of nature.

Even though modern children don’t spend much time outdoors 96% of parents appreciate the positive effect it has on their child’s mental and physical well-being, reporting better concentration at school and 78% believing that it had a positive effect on their child’s mental health. Winter seems to be the problem months with children playing outdoors less than 3 hours a week, and almost 4 times as long in spring and summer. Is the problem with lack of suitable clothing or a reluctance on the parents part to supervise play when the weather is awful, after all most children love jumping in puddles and playing in the snow?

The Geocaching app combines learning with being outdoors so it’s not just a boring walk in the countryside there is an element of history, environment, architecture and much more involved in the search for the ‘treasure’. The ‘hunt’ uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) or smartphone and treasures can vary enormously from a tiny box filled with stones and shells to a table and bench where you can enjoy your Geocache picnic.

If the weather is truly dreadful there are interactive apps which enable a child to build a garden and fill it with vegetables, all from the comfort of indoors. There are also simple gardening and houseplant tasks which can be carried out indoors; how about planting up a terrarium, really trendy at the moment, or making a garden in a tray which also taps into children’s creative streak. Growing salad leaves on a sunny windowsill is really easy, all you need is a packet of seed, small plastic seed tray, or the plastic tubs which contain fruit from the supermarket, and some seed compost. Seed packets nowadays usually have all the growing instructions you need on the back of the pack so just follow them, and if you need any help get in touch with us by filling in the Contact Us form on the website or call one of the Outdoor Plant staff here in store.

Head of Online Development here at Hayes Garden World, Lyndan Orvis, commented that as the research has showed that parents are not always confident gardening with their children we should really be offering classes aimed at both parents and children, in the past they have been aimed solely at children. Forty percent of parents reported that they don’t know how to carry out simple gardening tasks, such as planting plants or sowing seeds, yet 87% of parents have tried to interest their children in nature and gardening, so it appears that there is an inclination to encourage children but could be hampered by a lack of ability on the part of the parents. With this in mind, Hayes are planning to run parent/child sessions in the future; these are not yet finalised but are likely to include sowing seeds and what all the symbols mean on the back of the seed packet, potting on the plug plants and which composts to use. Keep an eye on our Events page for further details.

Technology is vital to every-day life and shouldn’t be put on the back burner to concentrate on gardening and nature, but we can harness technology to include nature into our lives, whether it be just playing in the park or searching out leaves and identifying them using an identification app.

As an alternative to technology don't forget we have the interactive children's Fairy World here in store at Ambleside; head to the Events page for more details and how to book.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas