Each year, millions of Latinos go camping, and for several good reasons. According to the Outdoor Foundation’s 2014 American Camper Report, about 3.2 million Latinos in the U.S. went camping in 2013. They escaped to reconnect with nature, breathe some fresh air, and maybe even challenge themselves to catch fish like the King Salmon, which can weigh up to 100 pounds.
However, according to a new study, they don’t go away to unplug.
Kampgrounds of America’s new 2015 North American Camping Report has found that 70% of campers go online at least once on their trip, and half go online at least once a day. Latinos were also found to be more likely than Caucasian campers to use cell and Internet service, cable and satellite TV, and even video games while camping.
A majority of campers reported using their electronic devices to check emails or take pictures, and over 30% said that they used it to go on social media, too.
What’s most interesting, though, is that over 40% of campers said that a lack of free WiFi was a deal breaker, meaning about two out of five study participants would not camp somewhere unless they could get online. The only other amenities that were more important were kid-friendly features and clean bathrooms.
As if the study hadn’t already proved American campers’ addiction to the Internet, it also found that a shocking number of people would rather have some sort of digital device with them than the basic essentials.
When asked, “What could you not survive without when camping or what one essential item would you have to have in your camping survival kit?” About 34% named toilet paper, while 28% said their smartphone.
Although this might not seem like a big deal, it’s bigger than you’d think. Connecting with nature while camping is literally good for you. In fact, a 2014 study suggested that increases in conditions such as depression, attention disorders, and obesity are partly due to a decrease in peoples’ exposure to nature. Researchers even noted that exposure to nature appears to be beneficial for stress relief, mental restoration and improved mood. Psychologists have also shown that unplugging from devices can relieve stress, enhance awareness of surroundings, and strengthen relationships with people who are physically present.
If people remain plugged in — as the new study suggests — they’re missing the benefits of camping.