Changing Our Default Settings

At the tender age of 13, I found the piece of electronic equipment that was going to change my world forever – the ghetto blaster. It wasn’t just any ghetto blaster either. It had dual cassette tape players, FM stereo and detachable speakers on each side. I would make mixed tapes for my junior high crushes, and always be up to date on the latest singles from Depeche Mode and Twisted Sister. I saved my allowance for months and even offered up doing extra chores an exchange for more dollar bills (still to this day, the smell of dusting with lemon Pledge haunts me). When I walked out of Zellers with my new stereo, I was ready for music to shape the very core of that chicken-legged, retainer-wearing young adolescent on the verge of mullethood.

My ghetto, like most stereos, had an equalizer that looked super cool on the front display, giving me endless options for how the music that would fill my teenage room would sound. However, experimenting with the equalizer lasted approximately two and a half minutes. I was quick to realize that the default settings were likely the best choice and sounded superior over any other settings I tried. Throughout the following decades, I have owned various pieces of electronic equipment, most of which came with some form of default settings – on tv’s, cameras, computers or most recently, my phone. There have certainly been occasions where changing the default settings are necessary or simply desired. But more often than not, those default settings have stayed as they are, and have worked just fine.

For anyone over the age of 25, it would be easy to argue that the default setting for what we did with our time growing up when we weren’t in school was to be outside playing. Of course there were times when that default setting changed, but generally speaking, spending time outside truly was the default setting. In a short period of time, that default setting has shifted for today’s younger generations. Research has proven unequivocally that time in front of screens has become the new default setting – it is the predominant activity for how young Canadians (and adults too) spend their time.

Yesterday was Rediscover Nature Day, a campaign aimed at encouraging families to spend more time outside. Nature Valley and Take Me Outside would like to see that default setting of time in front of screens shift slightly back towards rediscovering nature and the great outdoors. We live in a digital age – yes, and there are many amazing benefits that come from that. But a default setting that has screens dominating our time seems unfortunate. We live in a country with unparalleled beauty. This vast and rugged land has shaped the very essence of what it means to be Canadian. Physically, mentally and emotionally, it’s worth restoring that default setting of spending time outside and rediscovering nature. After all, it’s a part of who we are.

As part of this campaign, we have a photo contest with a grand prize of a 4 day trip to Banff National Park, generously donated by Banff Lake Louise Tourism. All you have to do is submit a photo of your family enjoying some time outside by September 30th! For contest rules, visit

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