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Wild technology
10 apps to get your kids back to nature

When did our children begin to lose their connection with the outside world and how do we show them that nature can be as compelling as Netflix? 

A new study shows that children spend on average 3 hours per day online, with teenagers clocking up almost 5 hours per day. A direct consequence is that children and teenagers are spending less time outside, leading to what one expert has called ‘Nature Deficit Disorder.’

As half term approaches and we wonder once again how to persuade our children, and particularly our teenagers, to get some fresh air, these findings can make us feel despondent. We may nag them to get up and out, making it sound like a chore rather than a pleasure. Worse, we may find ourselves guiltily relieved when an hour of quiet time is achieved in front of the much maligned screen.

Outside doesn't have to mean offline

Top nature apps

How about an alternative approach? If we can’t persuade our children and teenagers that life in the great outdoors is more exciting than life experienced through a screen, then let’s bring the two together! Let’s harness that technology and bring nature to life for our children in a way they can relate to.

There are lots of fantastic apps to enhance our appreciation of nature and here we have selected our top ten, which will please everyone in the family. 

1. ForestXplorer FREE*. Apple and Android. Get the family out for a forest walk.  Find out which Forestry Commission woodland is nearby and what facilities are there. Download trail maps and learn about the trees around you.

2. Project Noah FREE*. IPhone and Android. A community for nature lovers that allows you to become a citizen scientist, exploring and documenting nature and contributing to wildlife surveys and studies. 

3. Nature Finder FREE*. IPhone and Android. Nature Finder from the Wildlife Trusts contains details of more than 2000 nature reserves including woods, lakes and meadows, along with events, maps and information about more than 900 UK species and habitats.

4. Meet the Insects £3.99*. Ipad. There is a Forest Edition, a Water and Grass Edition and a Village Edition. Naturally, we recommend the Forest Edition. Great for kids aged 7 and above, bringing bug hunting into the 21st century.

5. Leafsnap UK FREE*. Apple. This should be a fantastic app but reviews are mixed. From the Natural History Museum, it allows you to identify trees from their leaves, fruits, seeds or bark using image recognition software. We have no doubt it will shape up soon. 

6. Like that Garden FREE*. Apple and Android. Much like Leafsnap, this app allows you to upload photographs to get identification of flowers and butterflies. It’s fun and educational; a sort of electronic grandpa that knows the names of all the plants. 

7. Skyview FREE. Apple and Android. One of myriad stargazing apps, we like Skyview because it is easy to use for older children, it’s full of interesting facts and figures and it’s free. 

8. WildTime FREE*. Apple and Android. A special little app from Project Wild Thing. In their own words: “Choose how much time you have to spare, find a wild thing to do. Get outside and do it.” Highly recommended.

9. Geocaching FREE*. Apple and Android. You are invited to join the world’s largest treasure hunt. There are thousands of geocaches hidden around the country and the geocaching app helps you to find them. A great way to get them out for a walk, your kids will respond much more readily to “Let’s go geocaching" than they will to “Let’s go for a nice walk.”

Make sure you book your In-Cabin Entertainment Package too. After those long walks you can all relax with some great films and the all-important Wi-Fi…..we’re not banning screen time, we’re just trying to find a healthy balance.

*Prices correct at time of publishing