Traveling and exploring the great outdoors will always be a passion of mine, but when I'm not out exploring the wilderness, you'll often find me on my phone, browsing the internet, like seemingly everyone these days. Problems can tend to emerge when these two pastimes inevitably overlap - sometimes you'll find yourself out on the trail, having the experience of a lifetime, but too distracted by your phone and the internet to truly enjoy what's in front of you.

To be sure, the internet and the mobile age has brought with it a great number of positive improvements for society. We've entered a more connected world, where physical distance no longer necessarily leads to emotional distance. The ability to more easily, and instantly, keep up-to-date with the latest goings-on in the world has brought great benefits for society and humanity as a whole.

However, we must also acknowledge the downsides of this creeping, unending expansion of technology into our lives: it has shortened our attention spans. Already, national parks and areas of natural beauty - places where mobile phone signal is often sparse and WiFi is nowhere to be seen - have become, for many, welcome respites from the world of the unending notification tones, which assemble themselves into a todo list of emails demanding responses, and clickbait news articles vying for our attention.

There was a time when the idea of expanding WiFi and internet connectivity to every corner of the globe seemed like a welcome prospect to many. But as our lives have come to be more and more dominated by screen time, some of us have come to value what little chance we get to tear ourselves away from our devices. Where I used to get frustrated as I looked at my phone to find it could pick up no signal, I now feel a moment of relief as I realise I am released from my urge to check social media and reply to my messages.

This is not to say that internet connectivity in the wilderness is necessarily a bad thing, or even that it shouldn't be expanded. If mobile coverage were to reach 100% of the country, all of a sudden it would become much, much harder for people to become stranded in precarious situations with no way of contacting rescue workers - up a mountain, or out in a forest. Apps that allow us to read maps, look up information, and contact our friends are all extremely valuable tools when we're out on the trail, and are a fine example of the ways in which modern technology improves our lives and, sometimes, even saves them.

The key is to find the ideal balance between harnessing the advantages of modern technology, and retaining the ability to put down our devices and focus on something else at the right time. In the grand scheme of things, smartphones and even the internet are still relatively new technologies, and I have to say that as a society, I don't feel that we've yet found that balance.

So the next time you're out hiking and you take a look at your phone only to find that it's woefully devoid of connectivity, try to look at the situation positively: you're free to explore the natural world, without the urge to stop and stare down at the screen in your hand. Enjoy yourself!