Bhutan is a carbon negative country with rich forest coverage. However, with urbanisation and increasing rural-urban migration, people especially children in urban places have lesser exposure to nature as they are kept indoors allowing most of the time after school in front of screens. Now with emerging technologies, children from young age spend a lot of time using different gamified technologies. The use of technology indoors in all times of childhood days will have greater impact on children’s cognitive and physical development and the lack of exposure to nature can lead to the lack of interest and care which might threaten the environment and its sustainability in future.
This study endeavours to:
- engage children in the research process to understand children’s exposure and understanding of natural environment
- find noble ways to co-design innovative technology with children to develop interest and connect with natural environment in sustainable ways
- contribute to previous studies that have been undertaken across the world to connect youth to nature and to use technology with a purpose.
There are several studies that have investigated the effects of children’s exposure to nature and how technology can be used to enhance children’s engagement with natural environment. However, these are studies are not in context of Bhutan. Therefore, this study will explore and investigate the research question: How can we enhance children’s engagement with nature using innovative technologies and contribute to Gross National Happiness (GNH) school concept?
The expected outcomes of the project are to:
- understand existing technology and app use by children at the age of 7 to 8 through children, parent and teachers.
- uncover the positive significance of technology in children in Bhutanese context.
- study how and what kind of technology can be used to foster children’s time with nature.
- further contribute to Participatory Design (PD) with children in HCI.
- investigate how technology can contribute to Gross National Happiness (GNH).
The project is funded by Australian Research Council (ARC) with the grant project title ‘Ambient Nature Network: New Technologies to Connect People to Nature’.