Hi-tech, hi-nature in 2018

The last 5 years have been quite a ride. Since then we have:

  • made a film which has reached 1.2 million people
  • launched an app which has generated over 1 million hours of #wildtime
  • developed a schools programme which has reached 80,000 kids
  • built a diverse community of over 30,000 people, practitioners and organisations

Something is shifting out there, a greater consciousness for the need for connection for our children, our communities, ourselves. Awareness of the benefits that Wild Time offers is increasing, the evidence base is now overwhelming and policy makers give encouraging signs for the future. There is hope.

But the barriers don’t go away, for every step forward we collectively take, so the complex inter-related barriers to Wild Time become greater. One barrier in particular has always stood out – screen time. Back in 2013 when we were getting started screen time, or the question of how do we find balance between screen time and wild time was already becoming huge. As parents we were leaning into deep uncertainty, unsure of how to navigate such rapidly emerging technology. We were all starting to experiment, seeking solutions that allowed us to stay connected to the real world as well as the virtual.

If it felt tough then, the landscape over the last 5 years has changed beyond recognition. Back in 2012 smartphone ownership amongst young people was still less than 50%. In 2015 it was around 90%, now its 96% and still rising. This rise coincides with what many people recognise as a childhood mental health crisis with a 50% increase in a clinical level depression between 2011-2015. Studies that track childhood behaviour longitudinally show significant shifts in everyday behaviour since IPhones were first released in 2007. Since then incidences of loneliness have increased, they don’t hang out with friends as much, they don’t get enough sleep and even incidences of dating have even gone down. And we worry that they aren’t getting enough Wild Time – it isn’t suprising when shifts as profound as this are taking place.

We’ve always believed that Wild Time is the ultimate wonder product – fun, free and good for you. But against the rising tide of technology what hope has it got? It is also not a case of one versus the other, choosing wild over tech, switching off the internet and we’d go back to a wild utopia. Technology offers such opportunity for helpful connection and for creating but without balance, it could all mean nothing.

Our next mission – experiments towards a hi-tech, hi-nature world

We’re developing the a number of concepts and exploring how we best utilise the skills we have around film making, content creation and our network. We now need you to tell us which one you like best.  

The question is simple: which one excites you most?  Which do you think you’d most like to get involved with? We’ll use the responses as we test the ideas with funders and partners. When we’re done that we’ll share more with you and details for how you can be a part of shaping, funding and collaborating to make them happen.

1)  Wild Guide: a learning platform

How can you light a fire in 30 seconds?  What are the three most important wild activities for a 9-year old to do?  Wild Guide is a web learning platform to to help you to re-wild your life – providing a whole host of tools, ideas and processes for us all to get stuck into as parents, guardians, grandparents and children too. Imagine a platform like Khan Academy if it grew talons and went wild.  It would be for parents of all ages, wherever you are, with flexible searching capabilities and tags and with a blend of text, photos and videos. Everything you need to go wild.

2) Wild Tube: a web rewilding channel

What to inspire your teen son to stop gaming?  Or get some ideas for a wild campervan holiday? Wild Tube both curates and creates the weirdest, wildest and coolest outdoor videos on the web. Wild vloggers of all ages come together to celebrate activities that celebrate and promote the will of the child. Imagine all thoe inspirational re-wilding films in one place. 

3) Wild TV: a TV series

This would mean going back to our roots: getting the cameras out and rolling. We would make the go-to web or TV series about rewilding. We don’t know the exact concept yet, that’ll be the fun part once we get the sense that there is appetite for it. But we are envisioning an ongoing show with multiple episodes which is mainly entertainment, but also holds up a mirror to our tech-obsessed lifestyles. We would make a pilot, then get web or terrestrial broadcasters interested.

4) Wild Spaces: gatherings from parent & child to rekindle social connection

A return to interaction, time together to discuss and work with others that are all going through similar challenges. Through the lens of tech usage, parent and child (likely 10-14 year olds to start) we would meet up with 5 to 7 other families in a structured environment to deepen their understanding of the tech:wild interface. Then drawing from principles of other self-help and addiction practises we’d develop a community based intervention that would initially be piloted, tested and scaled potentially nationwide offering real solutions to all of us, child and parent alike,  that are silently suffering alone in our homes. We believe in power of community to help.