How long do you think your kids – or you – could survive without cell phones, TV, computers or Facebook? Mom and journalist Susan Maushart lasted for six months without all of these and more, along with her 14-, 15- and 18-year-old teens. Maushart and her kids all had some kind of online addiction, whether it was her incessant following of podcasts, her son’s obsession with video games, or her daughters’ constant use of Facebook. But by completely stepping back from these online habits for six months – during “The Experiment” as she calls it – they were able to grow less dependent of their techy lifestyles and spend more time as a family. Maushart chronicles her family’s offline adventures in a new book called The Winter of Our Disconnect, sharing the benefits they found by getting reacquainted with the real world.
While Maushart made some exceptions – everyone was allowed to use the Internet outside of the house and they could still use the landline to make phone calls – she still believed that “The Experiment” did its job. Before the six months started, she says, her kids “inhabited” technology and the online world and didn’t remember what things were like without cell phones, email or Facebook. But without distractions like social networking, constant Internet access, and texting, all of the kids’ grades improved.
One of our resolutions this year was to take a break from technology with your families. While Maushart’s approach was extreme, her family still benefited from it and it’s possible for any family to take a tech break. Maushart “encourages families to unplug periodically,” even if it’s just one day every few weeks. Your kids will survive without constantly updating their Facebook status or seeing the latest YouTube video, and they might even enjoy it!
How do you think your family would react to getting “unplugged”?