Now that summer is basically over and most kids are back in school, a lot of parents are having to renegotiate screen time with their kids. Sure, most of us believe the studies that show hours spent swiping iPads turns our children into zombies. But many of us secretly need our kids to be zombies during what can feel like endless summer breaks. It's easier to be virtuously screen-free when school eats into so many of the waking hours.
One Canadian family decided to screw limits and books-for-Minecraft trade-offs and, instead, got rid of their cell-phones. And their iPads. And their home computers, Internet connections, and Xbox. And they didn't stop there. Blair McMillan and his girlfriend Morgan banished from their home other modern conveniences like CD players, CDs, automatic coffee makers, their online bank accounts, digital cameras and a GPS. In fact, anything that was made after 1986 is no longer allowed inside the house (or inside the family road-trip car—a 2014 Kia). McMillan and his two kids are so 1986 that they even sport mullets and, for those hairy enough to grow one, a sweet, pre-ironic 'stache.
But redneck hair aside, what's the point of it all? That's easy: getting back to the way life used to be.
Google-able questions get answered after someone looks it up in a vintage encyclopedia set.
This all started, according to a story about the family in the Toronto Sun, when McMillan's then-5-year-old Trey couldn't be coaxed to go outside and kick around a ball with his dad. He was too engrossed in an iPad app. The rest is history, or, for many of us who feel completely dependent on our gadgets, pre-historic.
Morgan only uses a computer at work. The couple refused to look at a relative's iPhone to see pictures of their newborn niece. Google-able questions get answered after someone looks it up in a vintage encyclopedia set.
It's a year-long experiment for the 26-year-old stay-at-home father and comes to an end in April 2014. Until then, he'll send out handwritten resumes, fax urgent documents and let the party in the back of his head grow longer and more distinct from the closely trimmed business up front.
What has he learned so far? That it's nice to be untethered from cell-phones. That road trips are manageable (if not louder), even without DVD players in headrests. And the kids can get by without video games.
Wait, his son does play Super Mario on an old Nintendo. Perhaps, 1986 is really the low-tech sweet spot.