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on 14 July 2017
The cover of the book was a little shabby for the price. However it arrived promptly.
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on 21 January 2011
... or is that just guilt talking, as I would never be brave enough do what the author did :-)

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!)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 March 2011
I thought it was hilarious, and I'm off to read the author's other books!!

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.....
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on 30 January 2011
As a former technophobe and now fully-fledged member of the digital generation, I'm always keen to hear experiences of living without computers, mobile phones, and all the other bits of wizardry we take for granted nowadays. I guess I wanted to try it out through someone else, see what it's like to go back to basics without actually having to sacrifice anything myself.

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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on 13 March 2012
I expected so much from this book and, perhaps, that's why it rates so poorly.. too much expectation?
The promise of some kind of answer to just one of most modern parents' worries.. Just how is all this technology affecting my child? The only way to describe why I felt so let down by it is to mention the end. So if you don't fancy the spoiler then do not read on!
Maushart is an academic. A feminist and a single mother. She lives in a house in Perth and has 3 adolescent children. They are all (not just the kids) addicted to their media so she decides to pull the plug and see how it impacts on their lives...
You can see how this might appeal but despite the good humour and intelligent one liners the elephant in the room that is this book starts to trumpet away after the first chapter...
There are several moments where I raised an eyebrow but I wanted to know what lessons on life were to be learned from this forced regression so I read on. The answer it seems is the square route of nothing.
For all the author's mid-book comments on discovering things about themselves they had all forgotten or pehaps didn't even know, the book ends with them all going media mental the millisecond the `experiment' is over.
So the final words suggest that despite the last six months they all just carried as they had been.
To quote Maushart, "WTF!"
For me the thing which begins to trumpet out as the book goes on is Maushart's awful approach to being a parent. Sure she is up against it, 3 kids, 1 parent and all that. But come on; "I have never taken an interest in my kid's homework." "Stats show parents that help their children do their homework have a negative impact on their results."
One of her kids plays on his computer all day and night, one is allowed to stay up all night using her laptop and fall to sleep when she just can't stay awake any longer and the other has no interest in anything but Facebook and My Space. I am not an academic but I have news for Ms Maushart. It's not the media's fault. It's hers. What parent would allow this to happen in the first place?!
This is all underlined when she tries to explain the value of meal times taken at the table. She gives all kinds of interesting stats on how the advantages don't just apply to those families from good backgrounds, good wages or good educational backgrounds. It would seem that all families that eat up to the table with no TV benefit from some mystical force of good. At no point does she allude that maybe, just maybe, the kind of families that do that are the kind that instil a wider set of values and take responsibility for what their kids do (especially in their own homes!). Maushart seems to think that it's all the screens'fault. The ultimate "Society is to blame" banner for her own failings.
All in all a (predictably) well written book which leads nowhere and seemingly taught the author herself nothing worth abiding by.
Still that said the irony of me taking the time to do this review (online) and you to read it (online) about a book concerned with us all spending too much time ONLINE is not lost on me!
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on 25 January 2011
OK - I can see why the previous reviewer considers it a bit preachy, but the author struck a real cord with me. I'm lazy about my technology & hoover it up without a second thought. And my kids are worse. It's great when I see them collaborating online working on a homework assignment together, less so when it's Facebook stalking.

Being honest, if she hadn't made everyone go cold turkey with their technology, it wouldn't have had half the impact on their lives, or ours as readers. Sometimes a cold bath makes you appreciate a warm fluffy towel. I'm not sure I'm ready for the ice plunge-pool yet, so it was great to have someone do it for me. Since finishing the book, I've removed all mobile phones from bedrooms & unplugged everything in them except the bedside light. Not sure I can bear to go much further though...!
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on 6 February 2011
What a great book. It is written beautifully with wit and intelligence. A fascinating insight into life without technology. If you find yourself watching tv with your laptop on your lap and can't focus on either, read this book!
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on 5 May 2011
I heard some of this book being read on Radio 4 and then read the whole thing for myself as part of a book group.The author's style is that of a weak journalist with endless statistics tediously delivered, only punctuated by smug knowing assertions that our children and experiences are surely just like hers.Her lifestyle and parenting decisions are deplorable and to continually excuse herself by suggesting that everyone is like her is at first annoying,then progressively insulting.I can only hope that not only the whole "experiment", but the entire family's life, was designed with a book deal in mind.Read this book if you have absolutely no option,otherwise don't waste the few hours it would take.
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on 21 January 2011
This is a terrific book that will ring true for anyone with kids - and it raises issues that need thinking about, in a splendidly non-preachy manner. And if you want another truly invaluable (and also very funny) book about teen-planet, I strongly recommend Get Out of My Life: But First Take Me and Alex Into Town by Tony Wolf, Suzanne Franks.
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on 18 October 2016
Well, I haven't finished reading it but it sounds really interesting.
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