Electronic Deprivation: Disconnecting Teens From The Internet For Six Months

A mom chronicles her life after unplugging herself and her three teenage kids off the nternet.


For six months, Susan Maushart completely took herself and her 3 teen kids off the grid-no Internet, no TV or any other electronic gadget and no cell phones. Before the experiment, life was a whirlwind of digital communication for the family:

Like so many teens, they couldn’t do their homework without simultaneously listening to music, updating Facebook and trading instant messages. If they were amused, instead of laughing, they actually said “LOL” aloud. Her girls had become mere “accessories of their own social-networking profile, as if real life were simply a dress rehearsal (or more accurately, a photo op) for the next status update.”

The experiment, which she chronicled in her new book The Winter of Our Disconnect, had a significant impact on her children, who like most in the millennial generation, were born and live with everpresent gadgets. Not only were they able to rediscover the simpler pleasures of life such as having family meals, learning to play music and reading books, they also became more focused and improved their grades.

Yahoo News reports on the changes these kids underwent after their ‘electronic deprivation’:

Her son Bill, a videogame and TV addict, filled his newfound spare time playing saxophone. “He swapped Grand Theft Auto for the Charlie Parker songbook,” Maushart wrote. Bill says The Experiment was merely a “trigger” and he would have found his way back to music eventually. Either way, he got so serious playing sax that when the gadget ban ended, he sold his game console and is now studying music in college.

Maushart’s eldest, Anni, was less wired and more bookish than the others, so her transition in and out of The Experiment was the least dramatic. Her friends thought the ban was “cool.” If she needed computers for schoolwork, she went to the library. Even now, she swears off Facebook from time to time, just for the heck of it.

Maushart’s youngest daughter, Sussy, had the hardest time going off the grid. Maushart had decided to allow use of the Internet, TV and other electronics outside the home, and Sussy immediately took that option, taking her laptop and moving in with her dad — Maushart’s ex-husband — for six weeks. Even after she returned to Maushart’s home, she spent hours on a landline phone as a substitute for texts and Facebook.

But the electronic deprivation had an impact anyway: Sussy’s grades improved substantially. Maushart wrote that her kids “awoke slowly from the state of cognitus interruptus that had characterized many of their waking hours to become more focused logical thinkers.”

Yahoo News: “What happens when mom unplugs teens for 6 months?”

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