How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale. By Susan Maushart.
A book review by Linda Coyle – speech and language therapist
While I’m great at encouraging families I work with in my practise the value of reading, I’m pretty slow at getting through a book myself. However, I did make an exception for The Winter of our Disconnect by Susan Maushart.
The Winter of our Disconnect is a personal account of one family’s experience of going offline for 6 months. All internet, smart phones, TV, Ipods and devices were off limits at home…a brave step for a single parent with three teenage children.
Susan was worried about her ‘digital native’ kids. (children who have grown up with technology) So, she decided that she would send them on a trip abroad…to real life.
Many topics are covered by Susan’s retelling of each family members’ journey. She highlights the creative opportunities that arise when children are given the opportunity to experience boredom. Also the effects of the digital world on eating, sleeping, homework and play. She points out the worrying trend towards a reduced attention span in children (and adults).This is as a result of living in an environment of highly stimulating/excessive multiple screen time which encourages multitasking, something our brains are not naturally designed to do.
The book gave me a lot to think about, both on a personal and professional level. It didn’t give me a quick fix solution to my concerns. But she did provide one guiding principle: the importance of making more conscious choices on a moment to moment basis in relation to how we use technology.
In reflecting on this book, I took away 5 key tips which help me to communicate and connect with my children better, These tips I share with my clients.
- Stop multi-tasking: our brain is not wired to do lots of things at the same time. If we keep trying to do this, we’re not doing anything right.
- Turn off the phone : If you want to connect with your child (and anyone else for that matter), disconnect from technology. turn it off, or put the device on silent and out of sight. Those rings and beeps, not only distract but also condition our bodies, both physical and mentally.
- Focus on the present moment: stop your mind drifting to other jobs, thoughts and ideas. When you are more present, you are better able to tune in to your child, and are available for more chances to interact. This is particularly the case when children are difficult to communicate with for whatever reasons.
- Draw your child’s attention to what they are experiencing right now, not something in the past, and share the experience together.
- Let your children be bored…give it time, allow the winging and moaning, because from the space of boredom great creativity comes.
For more info on Linda and her work here.