Humans need the exposure to the natural world in order to have a well-being in their physical and psychological states, says study.
"We're losing not just nature but our interaction with it," said Peter Kahn, a University of Washington associate professor of psychology.
Kahn describes his studies showing how substitutes for nature affect our physical and psychological well-being. He generally finds that while technological nature is better than no nature, it is not as good as the real outdoors and exposure to living beings.
Kahn emphasizes that humans are losing rich interactions with nature because we are quickly and pervasively degrading if not destroying large portions of nature, which are required for such interaction."
It will only get worse through a condition he calls "environmental generational amnesia," in which people consider the natural environment they encounter as children to be what's normal. Eventually we consider a degraded, polluted environment to be the norm.
In a series of studies, Kahn investigated the health benefits of having a window-like display in offices. He found that participants with a wall-mounted plasma screen displaying a real-time outside nature view looked at the screen as often as participants who had a window with a real nature view looked out their windows.
But participants with the screen did not show the same decrease in heart rate after a mild stressor, indicating that a real window with a nature view can counteract stress.
"If you care about stress reduction, human well-being or human-flourishing, we need a direct connection with nature," Kahn said.
The study has been published in Technological Nature.