Living like it’s 1986

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What lengths would you go to in order to ensure that your children had the best possible childhood? According to a report in The Atlantic, one couple decided to cut out all technology that has been introduced since 1986 (this was the year that both parents were born) for a whole year. Why? To give their kids a better chance of a real, childish, play-in-the-dirt, unsaturated-in-technology kind of youth.

The McMillan family use phones, but definitely no iPhones. Videos are available instead of DVDs or video games, and their banking involves face-to-face interaction. Books form a great part of their entertainment, and they use their brains to follow a map rather than blindly following a GPS. Good thing that the kids are only aged five and two, or who knows what kind of a fuss (or at least sneaky rebellion) they would have kicked up.

As daddy McMillan pointed out in the article, the bigger picture was about reclaiming family life from the shackles of technology - which he and his partner decided to act on when their five-year old starting choosing the iPad over them. And in terms of getting closer to each other and reuniting the family, they think it’s been working out jolly good.

Now on the one hand, I love that these parents have actually decided to do something about the situation, rather than just complaining about how tech-obsessed their kids are. We have to give them some points for that! Would I have gone to the same extremes? No, not really.

For one, I firmly believe that there is a moderate way of approaching most situations, so to speak. Rather than living in a completely random style, I would be more inclined to introduce certain codes – like mobile phones for the kids only after a certain age, definitely no gadgets at the dinner table. I’d want to mask these dictates however by encouraging other interests and activities, instead of plainly implementing tough rules that are just asking to be broken.

Perhaps I am idealistic that this would work, having no kids of my own. Yes, I may leave my phone in my room when I’m around the house, but my teenage siblings are rarely sighted without phone in hand. This being said however, I still think that they know when to stop and pay attention to the people around them. I just hope that one day, I can cultivate a culture in my home where family is important enough a value to transcend the need for technology every second of the day.

My other concern about the McMillan’s approach would be this – they’re living this way for one year, while the kids are young. It will improve family life for a while, but I feel like they’re bound to get sucked right back into it later on! Wouldn’t it be better to apply less extreme measures like I mentioned before, but over a longer period of time? Or will this experiment be enough to give the family long-lasting unity?

But once again, a pat on the back for a family that risked job opportunities and their good (or at least, non-deranged) reputation for the sake of improved family life!

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | childhood, parenting, technology use

This article is published by Tamara El-Rahi and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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Family Edge looks at news and trends affecting the family in the light of human dignity. Our focus is the inspiring, creative, humorous, annoying, ridiculous, and dangerous ideas in the evening news. Send tips and brainwaves to the editor, Tamara Rajakariar, at tamara.rajakariar@

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