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The Winter of Our Disconnect: How One Family Pulled the Plug and Lived to Tell/Text/Tweet the Tale Paperback – 6 Jan 2011
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Her cautionary tale of media addiction is entertaining (Claire Sawers The List 2011-01-06)
Hilariously entertaining but sobering and informative read... Thoreau would no doubt have approved (Karlin Lillington Irish Times 2011-01-15)
A frank, funny and incredibly inspiring memoir (it will have you dusting off your board games) we share in her many, many successes (Louise Cook Sunday Express 2011-01-23)
Light-hearted and breezy. (Julian Fleming Sunday Business Post 2011-01-23)
A memoirs-cum-call-to-arms... a strong, passionate voice (Danuta Kean Mslexia 2011-02-01)
Read this true story for inspiration. Read it for laughs. Maybe even read it on your ipad. (O Magazine 2011-01-01)
This book makes you sit up and seriously think. (Junior 2011-03-01)
Brilliantly entertaining (Janey Lee Grace Natural Health and Beauty 2011-04-01)
A fab book by a witty, single-parent mum... a great story (Rosita Sweetman Sunday Independent 2011-04-17)
The self help book EVERY family must have. By ditching all means of electronic devices, one ordinary family learns new (or old) ways of communicating across the generation divide and begin to understand what being a family is all about.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
On the plus side, very interesting subject for debate, one that most parents will have experience of and very likely be concerned about. Shrewd idea for a zeitgeisty book.
On the minus side, while the author was at pains to point out the various pitfalls of her decision, I did find the authorial voice a bit smug and preachy and I baulked at the rather airy underlying assumptions about what constitutes a "good" family life and "healthy" social interractions. I also felt that the overall attitude towards societal evolution was a little blinkered and old-fashioned. At the end of the proverbial, hankering after an Enid Blyton world where teenagers amused themselves scrumping apples and cycling to the corner shop for ginger ale is not going to make it happen! As a teenager, my parents' approach to what they saw as the subversive effects of technology was to forbid any TV after 8 pm and limit phone calls to 5 minutes maximum (there was an egg timer - yes, really)... draconian in those days, compared to my friends' parents.... but that didn't stop me growing up to happily make full use of a mobile phone, a computer, a blackberry, a subscription to Sky and wireless internet access. Similarly, my own efforts to limit my kids' use of social networking and screen time won't stop them from running their lives in future using as-yet-unimagined gadgets that I'll no doubt be alarmed by.... it's just the way of things... I can't help strongly doubting that the 6-month experiment laid out in the book will have any lasting impact on the author's offspring. Which begs the question for me, why did she do it? I'm not entirely sure, but at least she got a media-friendly book out it, and why the heck not. I suppose as this is a book review, I should say something about my opinion of the style - while it was well written and the situations described raised a smile of recognition at various points, a bit more self-depracation and humour would have lifted it for me.
I would guess that this is likely to be one of those polarising reads. If you agree with the author's stance on the perils of an increasingly "wired" existence, you'll probably love it and not even notice any stylistic flaws. If you don't particularly share her views, it'll probably irritate you no end. (no prizes for guessing which camp I'm in!)
I also heard the tasters on Radio Four, and the deeply researched non-fiction side of the book was a surprise, but a good one - I'm self-employed, and my business markets to parents and teenagers, so now I am knowledgeable in the area of Digital Immigrants versus Digital Natives, I'm off to exploit that for my own business purposes - which probably wasn't what the author intended.
However, as a parent, I could see my three-year-old and fourteen-month-old already getting suckered in by technology - I noticed if the older one flops in front of the television for a while, she doesn't play with toys afterwards, but if she runs around in the playground for a while, she immediately starts playing with toys when she gets home - so I can already start making preventative measures before it gets to the author's situation. It's not Enid Blyton. It's just raising children who are active rather than passive.
I also enjoyed all the pithy remarks about a New Yorker living in Perth, Western Australia - but then I'm an Australian ex-pat who fled the country, so that's just me.....
Unsurprisingly, Maushart finds that it is perfectly possible to live without her mobile and laptop. Annoying, sure, but perfectly possible. And while I felt a sort of "duh" moment whenever she or her kids realised life was indeed manageable technology-free, I was quickly put back in my place when I realised that I am frequently guilty of WILFing - that's "What Was I Looking For", or what happens when you lose track of what you were supposed to be Googling and end up procrastinating on the Internet for rather longer than you meant.
The most interesting thing to me was Maushart's research into multitaskers, namely those who think they can still work whilst simultaneously watching TV, having a conversation on Skype and reading three different webpages. What legions of parents have been telling kids for years is sadly scientifically true: you can't do your homework and watch TV at the same time.
The only minor niggle I have with the book is Maushart's use of LOL, ROLF and similar. It starts out fairly funny, as a sort of ironic response to her children's initial failure to embrace the experiment, but after a while it just grates. Apart from that, it's a great book, with some fascinating commentary on the way we use technology now. And it reminded me that notepads make a great handheld game; I'll remember that - if I'm ever stuck without my smartphone...
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