Unplug your tech and take a dose of nature

23 June 2015

Ahead of the UK’s first ‘National Unplugging Day’ this Sunday (June 28), researchers at the University of Derby are urging the nation to switch off their phones and reconnect with the great outdoors.  

In the research paper ‘Smartphone Use, Addiction, Narcissism, and Personality: A Mixed Methods Investigation,’ author, Claire Pearson, and Dr Zaheer Hussain, co-author and lecturer in Psychology at Derby, found that the nation is becoming addicted to their smartphones.

The results of the study revealed that 1 in 8 people are classified as being addicted, with the average user spending 3.6 hours per day on their device.

Relationships were also noted in the research as despite 46.8% of participants speaking positively of improved social relations, 1 in 4 admitted their smartphones create communication issues within ‘real life’.

Dr Zaheer Hussain, lecturer in Psychology at Derby, said: “The smartphone research informs us about smartphone overuse and the impact on psychological well-being. We now use smartphones on a daily basis and for various tasks so being aware of the psychological effects is very important.”

National Unplugging Day asks individuals and families to put down their smartphone, tablets and computers for 24-hours to experience life unplugged.

Further research from the University of Derby suggests that taking a break from urban life and noticing the good things in nature can reconnect people with nature, bringing about positive impacts on a person’s psychological health and well-being.

The research paper, titled ‘One thousand good things in nature: aspects of nearby nature associated with improved connection to nature’, led by Dr Miles Richardson, Head of Psychology at Derby, asked participants to note down three good things in nature each day for one week.

Ten specific themes associated with an increased human-nature relationship emerged from the study. The ‘good things’ people find in nature included: sensations of nature, noting growth and change over time, active wildlife, the colours of nature and good feelings while in nature.

The themes suggest activities for those unplugging and wanting to find a greater connection to nature. The sensations of nature, for example, are many, from enjoying birdsong to the scent of a flower, or simply enjoying the changes in nature as the sunsets.

Dr Richardson said: “A connection to nature is emerging as a key factor in conservation of nature and our own wellbeing and happiness, as important as income and education. Within our increasingly urban lives it’s important to unplug and take a moment to notice nature.”