Families Fight Back Against the Computer and TV by Living Without Tech

© Sunset Magazine/ Thomas J. Story

Sunset Magazine writes of "a growing movement" which believes that to enjoy life to its fullest, you need to do some things the old-fashioned way (translation: technology-free). It profiles a family with a lot of room in their San Francisco house:

It’s as if something is missing. Like TVs, video games, laptops, smartphones, and iPads. That’s because Wegman and Corliss have designated their home a technology-free zone. Their kitchen boasts a basic fridge, dishwasher, and stove—all with no LED interfaces. The phones are rotary dial, and even the clocks are analog.

Jess Chamberlain explains:

But what “unpluggers” like Corliss and Wegman have decided is that technology, despite its promises to improve our lives and make it more efficient, often distracts us from more meaningful interactions. At the heart of the unplugging movement is a desire, à la Thoreau, to get back to a purer way of living: to rediscover hobbies, use your hands, get outdoors, have a conversation that isn’t mediated by bits and bytes.

Now one could quibble that a dishwasher is a pretty sophisticated bit of technology that replaces a perfectly reasonable family activity, washing and drying, and that there are in fact electronic displays at the top of that dishwasher door. One might also argue that you can barely use a rotary phone anymore because of all the "Press one to continue" systems, I had to give it up a decade ago. But it is a fascinating trend that appears to be spreading. More at Sunset.

Parentables contributor Katherine Martinko writes on her own blog about why her family doesn't have a TV and keeps the technology hidden:

It’s extremely important that my kids learn to entertain themselves. They need to read books if they’re bored, go outside and dig holes in the dirt, ride their bikes. So many kids are suffering from what author Richard Louv calls “nature deficit disorder,” so why wouldn’t I try to eliminate potential sources of unhealthiness, both physical and psychological, in our family?

According to Sunset, Author William Powers suggests a "Walden Zone":

What it is: Designate space in your house as a tech-free zone. Put a basket at the door for cell phones. Insight: “In the beginning, we had total withdrawal, which made us realize how addicted we were,” recalls Powers. “After a few months, we began to realize all these incredible benefits. It’s like adding a room to your house—a space where you can live differently.”

Others suggest celebrating Technology Shabbats, where you turn off all your electronics for a day each week, and an upcoming National Day of Unplugging, which you will not hear about on TreeHugger, we need the pageviews.

More in Sunset Magazine

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

We are pretty wired at our home; this scene almost turned into an argument when my son just couldn't put down his phone. A technology Shabbat might be a good idea at our house, except I would fail as badly as they do. What about you?


Tags: Electronics | Gadgets

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