Nature in Person vs Nature on a Device

People always say to look at something outside to help us psychologically relax. Is it nature that provides us with this benefit, or can artificial technology such as VR replicate that same psychological benefit?

If you are a young adult college student, there is a high probability, that at some point during your childhood your parents encouraged you to put down your phone or videogame and do something outside. Research shows that your parents had good reason to do so, as there are many benefits to being outside. Exposure to nature is correlated with improved mental health and overall well-being.  When your parents wanted you to go outside, it was because they felt it would be “healthier”. But what is it about nature that provides us with these benefits? Most of the time people will say that looking at organisms alive outside such as plants is what provides these positive qualities. However, what if you were to instead look at something nature related on your phone or any technological device? What if you were in your living room watching Animal Planet or a nature documentary? Would look at the screen on your device provide you with the same benefits as looking at the leaves on the trees outdoors? This article delves deeper into these questions.

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Healing with Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, once a technological innovation only accessible to a select few, has been making strides within the consumer market. This has led to virtual reality now being increasingly more accessible to everyday consumers. 

This is exciting for consumers and their families as they will now be able to access a limitless virtual dimension. Although current efforts are focused on gaming and entertainment, researchers have been working to explore virtual reality as an effective tool for therapy and emotional wellbeing.

One promising area of research is the use of a simulated nature setting in order to evoke the benefits of actually being in nature. Being able to isolate just the audio and visual aspects of nature can help to further our understanding of how nature psychologically affects us. Furthering our understanding of this phenomenon could be beneficial to those who are physically unable or unwilling to physically experience nature.

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