The great culture blog Head Butler turned me on to this book about a family of four (one mom, three teenagers) who unplug all the screens (cell phones, tv, internet) for six months. The resulting opus is called The Winter of Our Discontent. I don’t even need to read it to know it should be required reading for every family. Can anyone remember the days before our always-on culture??
From the book’s promotional page:
“For any parent who’s ever IM-ed their child to the dinner table – or yanked the modem from its socket in a show of primal parental rage – this account of one family’s self-imposed exile from the Information Age will leave you ROFLing with recognition. But it will also challenge you to take stock of your own family connections, to create a media ecology that encourages kids – and parents – to thrive.
When journalist and commentator Susan Maushart first decided to pull the plug on all electronic media at home, she realised her children would have sooner volunteered to go without food, water or hair products. At ages 14, 15 and 18, her daughters and son didn’t use media. They inhabited media. Just exactly as fish inhabit a pond. Gracefully. Unblinkingly. And utterly without consciousness or curiosity as to how they got there. Susan’s experiment with her family was a major success and she found that having less to communicate with, her family is communicating more.
At the simplest level, The Winter of Our Disconnect is the story of how one family survived six months of wandering through the desert, digitally speaking, and the lessons learned about themselves and technology along the way. At the same time, their story is a channel to a wider view – into the impact of new media on the lives of families, into the very heart of the meaning of home.”