The new human tendency to focus on sedentary activities involving electronic media.
Oliver Pergams coined the term (and grabbed the url). Now, he's led a new study that finds Americans are spending more of their leisure time clicking away on the computer, glassy-eyed in front of the TV or thumbing madly on a BlackBerry or PS2 controller. (No word on whether the Netflix revolution has increased walking time, as folks visit the mailbox before plopping down to watch the latest DVD.)
Previous research juxtaposed a decline in National Parks visitation with the rise in time spent with electronics. The new research extended the data set, showing a similar correlation with backpacking, fishing, hiking, hunting and visits to state parks and forests. "Nature recreation" has dropped by 18% to 25% since 1981, the researchers found.
"There's a real and fundamental shift away from nature," said Pergams, a visiting research assistant professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. ""The replacement of vigorous outdoor activities by sedentary, indoor videophilia has far-reaching consequences for physical and mental health, especially in children. Videophilia has been shown to be a cause of obesity, lack of socialization, attention disorders and poor academic performance."
Do you find your eyes dry and red at the end of the day, from having stared at a computer for eight hours or more?
Do you get more light from flat-screen TVs than from the sun?
Are your lower back and fingers more likely to ache than your leg muscles?
Do you check the weather by visiting weather.com rather than walking out the door?
Do you have the channel that airs Comedy Central memorized?
Would you have to consult a map to reach the parks in your area?
When you have a free afternoon, is your first impulse to check MrMovie to for the local listings?
If you answered yes, you may be a videophiliac. The good news is that this condition is curable. Turn off your computer. Take the iPod out of your ears. Go directly outdoors. Do not pass the Wii console. And, please, leave the laptop and BlackBerry at home.
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