Experiencing outdoor recreation in the digital technology age: Are we "getting away from it all"?

Depatie, Caroline
Kerr, Roslyn
Espiner, Stephen
Stewart, Emma
Conference Contribution - published
Fields of Research
For decades, the outdoor recreation literature has documented the benefits of spending leisure time in natural resource settings. Key among the benefits are escape from daily routines and the experience of meaningful face-to-face social interactions. With the rapid expansion of personal digital devices, it is possible that some of the traditional values associated with outdoor recreation participation will be undermined or redefined. The emerging digital culture research argues that technology is embedded in our lives through portability, allowing us to be connected at all times while also experiencing a sense of individualised control over our social space. This paper considers how recreationists negotiate the dichotomy between experiencing the natural environment while using "unnatural" technology by examining recreationists' use of digital devices in the Port Hills of Christchurch. Through an online survey (n=300) and in-depth interviews (n=16) with Port Hills outdoor recreationists, preliminary findings suggest that participants feel conflicted about their use of technology while recreating outdoors. Over 90 per cent of recreationists reported carrying digital devices in the Port Hills, yet many expressed a sense of guilt or reluctance for doing so, often expounding the idea that the outdoors should remain technology-free, and a place for face-to-face interactions. Participants typically resolved this tension using the justification that they carry their digital devices for specific uses such as safety or within clearly identified social settings, such as solo recreating. Implications for the future management and experience of outdoor recreation in an increasingly technological age are presented.
Source DOI
Creative Commons Rights
Access Rights