My ITunes account got hacked yesterday to the itune of £100.. luckily our credit card company spotted unusual activity and rang us up, but it gave us quite a scare and a reality check about on-line security – or lack of it in this case! and our increased dependence on new media in our lives. On reflection this hit me as quite ironic, as the book I am currently reading is Susan Maushart’s The Winter of our Disconnect.
Journalist and mum of 3 Susan Maushart “unplugged” her family for 6 months, making her Australian home a technology free zone, the first week of which she even turned off the electricity. “The Experiment” as she refers to it, is retold in this humorous, thought provoking and often deja-vu feeling tale of how her family “lived to tell/text/tweet the tale”
I was hooked on page 2 when I came across this passage- She had obviously been in my living room the previous night when I had had a very similar conversation with my son!
“When my children laugh, they don’t say ‘ha ha’ they say ‘LOL’, in fact they conjugate it..”LOL at this picture before I Photo-shopped your nose Mom!”
Both the language they use, and the way they use technology (often multitasking a variety of medium at the same time – whilst protesting that they are revising for their exams next week) is symbolic of our younger generation, or digital natives and can be quite alien to us digital immigrants, who have had to learn to adapt to new technologies as we have not been brought up with them. (Marc Prensky coined the term digital native in his work Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants published in 2001)
The further I read, the more this story struck a chord with me. How often do we really question the impact technology has on our home life? apart from the occasional arguments about the size of the electricity bill and whether the boys really have to spend so much time playing on the PS3, searching the internet etc etc etc… probably not very often! Perhaps it’s time to start thinking about the quality of life that overuse of media deprives us as a family of? That face to face interaction between parents and siblings that doesn’t revolve around anything electronic. In the same way as TV and radio were blamed for the demise of the dance halls – and lets face it, ballroom dancing had really died a death before the coming of “Strictly” on a Saturday night!- then maybe as parents we need to be a bit more aware and even proactive in educating our youngsters of the advantages of doing anything that doesn’t need a screen, monitor or actually involves leaving the house! Technology is here to stay, but Susan’s book does go to show that there can be life outside of bits, bytes and Sim cards!
I still have two chapters of Susan’s book to read, so I don’t know yet how the family adapted back into the digital world once “The Experiment” was over, but I am sure there are going to be lots of lessons learned that I will definitely share with you all in a later blog!
… and just for the record, I did a quick count of the items Susan unplugged in our house*, and it came to 37!!! just think of the electricity bill savings I would make if I did the same thing for even one month, let alone six!
* 1 laptop; 1 desktop pc; 3x net-books; 6x mobile phones (with active Sims); 2x PSP; 1 PS3; 2x PS2; 3x Nintendo DS; 1 Wii; 3x Ipod Touch; 5 assorted other ipods; 4x TV’s including 1 Sky and 1 Virgin Media boxes; 5x digital radios.