Nowadays there are more obstacles to getting things done than ever before. Think: text messages, new MP3 songs, calls, instant messages, the iPad, prime time TV and streaming videos.
What would life be like without all the noise? Would it be more a “real life experience” than this over connected lifestyle of ours?
One mom, Susan Maushart, decided to put the theory to the test by imposing a six month Internet/electronics-free ban in her home.
What Maushart calls “The Experiment” has been chronicled in a book released this week called “The Winter of Our Disconnect,” which revealed some interesting results.
What most would think would end in World War III within Maushart’s home actually helped her four teenaged kids discover some old school pastimes.
Board games, books, old photos, family meals together, and music became part of the family’s leisure activities, rather than the constantly connecting on Facebook and iPhone.
For example, her son Bill, a serial gamer, traded in his gaming console for his old saxophone, helping him realize he wants to pursue music in college.
Maushart’s youngest daughter, Sussy had the hardest time separating from technology, choosing to move in her with father for six weeks.
When at her mom’s house, she could barely stay off the landline but without technological distractions, Sussy was able to pull her grades up dramatically.
Maushart saw that her kids “awoke slowly from the state of cognitus interruptus that had characterized many of their waking hours to become more focused logical thinkers.”
Maushart assumes that this unplugged experience is more “real” than the hyper connected Internet lifestyle. Even if you disagree, the results in Maushart’s family’s case are undeniable.
Maushart decided to unplug the family because the kids – ages 14, 15 and 18 when she started The Experiment – didn’t just “use media,” as she put it, they “inhabited” media.
“They don’t remember a time before e-mail, or instant messaging, or Google,” she wrote.
Maushart explains that her inspiration was Henry David Thoreau, who spent part of his life at the isolated Walden Pond where he lived a life of solitude and self-sufficiency. She goes as far as to quote Thoreau in his “simplify, simplify!” sentiment throughout her book.
Although Maushart realizes unplugging isn’t exactly realistic for the average family, she encourages families to give it a go.
“One way to do it is just to have that one screen-free day a week. Not as a punishment – not by saying, ‘I’ve had enough!’ – but by instituting it as a special thing.
“There isn’t a kid on the planet who wouldn’t really rather be playing a board game than sitting at the compute.”