MILLENNIAL PERSPECTIVE: TECHNOLOGY AS A TOOL FOR INCREASING MILLENNIAL INTEREST IN PARKS
by Liz Shaeffer
Millennials tend to be framed as a generation more interested in their smartphones than in engaging with the physical world around them. While this immersion in technology can deter people from visiting local parks and green spaces, it can also entice them to explore and be active.
As a generation that grew up during the recession and has invoked a fitness revolution, it’s strange that more millennials don’t seek to exploit the benefits they could receive from local parks. They enjoy socializing and documenting their everyday experiences with social media, and parks can fulfill these desires. Parks are an inexpensive place to be with friends, and can transport us away from the fast-paced Los Angeles lifestyle.
Green spaces can also attract millennials because they provide a unique experience. Whether the novelty is a view from a mountaintop, rock climbing in Joshua Tree, snow in the San Gabriel mountains in November, or a starry sky in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, millennials want to see, and more importantly, document these experiences. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can all be used to show the world what they have experienced, which can inform and attract more millennials to engage in the world around them.
Technology shouldn’t be viewed as a hindrance to millennial engagement with parks and green spaces, it should be seen as a tool to increase park engagement. By providing a place to spend time with friends, a unique date idea, or a great Instagram photo, parks and green spaces actually provide the types of day-to-day experiences that many millennials seek.
Next time someone asks “how can parks benefit me,” ask them where their kids go after school. Remind them that their morning beach jog has been made possible by policy initiatives to keep beaches clean. Ask them if they’d like to see an increase in their property value.
Parks provide many economic, health, and social benefits to surrounding communities. By educating communities about these benefits, millennials will realize how they have already engaged with parks and green spaces, and see that the possibilities are endless as long as park funding doesn’t disappear.