Nov 3, 2009

FarmVille: the cow in the meadow says stop

by Rachel Barker

Excuses are far from foreign in our lives. Prior commitments, true or not, are acceptable, but saying, “I can’t, I have to tend to my crops,” crosses the line.

FarmVille, like many other well-meaning computer games, started out innocently enough. But what begun as a friendly Facebook game has quickly become a nationwide obsession.

FarmVille allows users to virtually plant, grow and harvest a wide variety of crops as well as tend to beloved virtual farm animals.

This Facebook phenomenon has become the most popular application in the history of the social networking Web site, according to the New York Times.

“More than 62 million people have signed up to play the game since it made its debut in June, with 22 million logging on at least once a day,” according to the New York Times.

As college students, we are prone to and often welcome distractions. We spend hours on Facebook when we have papers or exams due the next day. With distractions like FarmVille so easily accessible, we find ourselves frequently opting for the simulated outdoor adventure rather than the authenticity outside our doors.

We have become so used to incorporating technology into our lives that we forget how important it is to experience nature in the raw.

“Research shows that time in green areas is important to overall health and well-being of children as well as adults,” according to the University of Illinois. “After spending time in green space outdoors, children with ADHD are much more ready to learn and focus when they return to an inside setting as compared to those spending time indoors or in outdoor non-green environments.”

The university further noted that clean air, as well as other elements present in nature, helps refresh and calm people while reducing stress.

Although we often need computers to complete tasks in our everyday lives, excessive use can lead to physical and mental problems. Prolonged exposure to the brightness of a computer screen can be linked to glaucoma, according to WebMD. This problem is especially prevalent in those who are shortsighted.

Seemingly productive work in the virtual world of FarmVille may result in serious health-related problems. Repetitive motions including typing on a keyboard or using a mouse can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, according to the New York Times.

Playing FarmVille occasionally might seem harmless, but an obsession can lead to more problems than mere social isolation. We need to decrease our technological interaction and increase our experiences with other people and the great outdoors.

Let us say no to FarmVille and yes to real experiences. If the addiction to FarmVille is more of a newfound love for harvesting than for computer interaction, try it and explore. Take a step out the front door, take a whiff of fresh air and pursue real gardening.

Contact Rachel Barker at

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