Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Technology Idle

Toronto Family Bans All Technology In Their Home Made After 1986 534

Posted by samzenpus
from the have-you-tried-super-mario-bros-yet? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Mary Am Shah reports in the Toronto Sun that 26-year-old Blair McMillan has banned any technology in his house post-1986, the year he and his girlfriend Morgan were born. They're doing it because their kids – Trey, 5, and Denton, 2 – wouldn't look up from their parents' iPhones and iPads long enough to kick a ball around the backyard. 'That's kind of when it hit me because I'm like, wow, when I was a kid, I lived outside,' says Blair adding that now 'we're parenting our kids the same way we were parented for a year just to see what it's like.' The McMillans do their banking in person instead of online. They develop rolls of film for $20 each instead of Instagramming their sons' antics. They recently traveled across the United States using paper maps and entertaining their screaming kids with coloring books and stickers, passing car after car with TVs embedded in the headrests and content infants seated in the back. Their plan is to continue living like it's 1986 until April 2014. Morgan, who admits she thought her boyfriend was 'crazy,' now devours books to pass the time and only uses a computer at work. 'I remember the day before we started this, I was a wreck and I was like I can't believe I have to delete my Facebook!' Blair originally experienced a form of phantom pain for the first few days after giving up his cellphone. 'The strangest thing without having a cellphone is that I could almost feel my pocket vibrating and I wanted to check my pocket.' Still Morgan says the change has been good for their family's spirit. 'We're just closer, there's more talking,'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Toronto Family Bans All Technology In Their Home Made After 1986

Comments Filter:
  • by Werrismys (764601) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:12PM (#44858493)
    I was fishing with my 4year old today. We both catched a fish. He was more interested in the fish and the worms and the sea than any iPads or other post-1986 crap around.
  • 1 problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by theReal-Hp_Sauce (1030010) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:21PM (#44858563)

    They actually have to go to the store and buy porn... instead of finding it for free on the internet.

    Other than that, I think this is a great idea.

    -hps

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:24PM (#44858583)

    If they think that technology is bad for children then they should just become Amish. The truth is that the kids can play with a piece of string and be happy just as much as playing on a computer. If you give them string and a button, they could play inside all day with it. But if you give them the same thing and let them play outside with it, then they're good. Same with computers, they should just put the computers outside and the kids will be outside all the time. Sheesh, some parents don't even know how to be parents anymore.

    • I think there is something to the general attitude that some Amish communities have toward technology. They aren't really Luddites in a general sense, but they feel that technology shouldn't be overwhelming society and that we need to step back a little bit and examine how those new technologies will impact our lives first before they are adopted. Even more significant is that they try to adopt technology in such a way that the senior citizens can also adapt to changes in technology over time and not be made instantly obsolete. Grandfathers actually can pass on ideas, skills, and traditions to the next generation without any sort of fear that they are clueless about how things work.

      Also, thinking that Amish and Mennonites are a homogenous community with all the same attitudes toward technology is simply being closed minded yourself. You will find a whole spectrum from those who eschew any sort of technological development since the Renaissance to those who are basically indistinguishable from others living in the 21st century in terms of the kinds of devices and technology they are using.

      Seriously, what is wrong about questioning supposed technological advances and wanting to live in harmony with nature? For those worried about stuff like your carbon footprint or sustainable living, you might want to take a page or two from those who are Amish and see how they are able to be productive and even thrive on renewable resources. I certainly have no problem with any group of people who voluntarily choose to live as a community without some technological devices.

      I certainly doubt that the Amish are too worried about their correspondence being intercepted and read by the NSA.

      • by narcc (412956) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @08:16PM (#44859275) Journal

        I certainly doubt that the Amish are too worried about their correspondence being intercepted and read by the NSA.

        What would they read on AmishNet?

        My trusted friend Eli,

        Your humorous rendering of that unhappy cat made me burst forth with laughte!. I've since shared it with the rest of the community, many of whom have dutifully reproduced your work during their precious few evening hours to share with our bretheren across the country. I trust you'll forgive me for my presumption.

        Faithfully yours,
        Jacob Yoder

      • by gman003 (1693318) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @08:41PM (#44859437)

        Actually, the Amish beliefs fundamentally aren't about technology - it's based on a very literal interpretation of a biblical command to "not yoke oneself under the non-believers", which they believe puts them at risk for being forced to abandon their faith. They use electricity, but because buying power off the grid would break that command, they run them off generators (under the theory that the electric lines could be cut off at any time, but generator fuel can be stockpiled). Likewise, they cannot own phones, but they found a loophole there as well - have public pay phones installed, with extra-loud ringers. This way they can pay straight-up for each call. Similarly, they do not rent land (except maybe from each other).

        They follow all their rules this way. Remember that bit about "give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's"? Even though they do not use nearly any social services like public schooling, they pay all their taxes, even many that they could technically opt out of (I think they do refuse Social Security taxes, legally, but they pay all the others). And for their strictures against military clothing? They consider buttons to be military wear - all their clothes use ties (or perhaps nowadays zippers or snaps). Although they do seek out loopholes - their beliefs forbid purely decorative pictures, so they tend to have numerous calenders, which, because they serve a functional purpose as well as have decorative imagery, are perfectly fine.

        Sure, there probably are plenty of Amish who think technology itself is bad, or the whole nature thing. They're a varied culture, not completely uniform. But the core reason for it is based on some odd religious interpretation, not beliefs about technology itself.

  • by linuxguy (98493) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:25PM (#44858593) Homepage

    Its interesting to see some of these people flip out completely instead of taking a moderate approach. Many modern technologies are very useful. When my kids at home ask me a question that I don't know the answer to, most of the time I can look it up on Wikipedia or another site. If my wife is going to the grocery store and I forget to tell her about something I need, I'll just text her and she'll pick it up. When I am picking up a friend or family member from the airport, it is a lot quicker to call them to coordinate the pick up time and stop than doing it the old way. The old way requires that you coordinate everything well in advance and nothing unexpected should happen to thwart your well conceived plans. And the list goes on.

    If you don't want your kids using your tablets or phones, don't let them. I have no trouble letting my kids use the tablets and the phones. At the same time I don't let them play on them all day long. If they finish their homework and chores, they get some play time. And if they want to play a game on the tablet during their play time, well what is so wrong with that?

    • by MacTO (1161105) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @07:59PM (#44859171)

      Even though I agree with what you're saying, moderation is something that is hard to achieve if you're already out of control. Moderation is hard to achieve unless you have a concrete goal. Moderation is hard to achieve if you're a young child.

      I see what they're doing as entirely reasonable. It isn't all that different from families in the 1980's refusing to get a video game console or computer, banning television from the household, or the many other things that could be construed as anti-technology. And yes, that was fairly common back then. And no, it wasn't always based upon cost.

      The only reason why it feels weird is because they said they're living like it's 1986 and because electronics have become so ingrained in our lives that many people refuse to accept that anyone can live without it.

      • Even though I agree with what you're saying, moderation is something that is hard to achieve if you're already out of control. Moderation is hard to achieve unless you have a concrete goal. Moderation is hard to achieve if you're a young child.

        I am not following this logic. Of course moderation is hard to achieve if you're a young child - that's why children have parents.

        (I use "you'" in the hypothetical sense below.)

        If you are the parent, be the parent. You can tell your child no. You will survive if your child gets angry at you and acts out. You'll even survive the oh-so-dreadful embarassment if he does so in public place. You can manage through the inconvenience caused by actually having to attend your child instead of handing over a gadget to entertain him. You do not have to give him what he wants - because you are the parent.

        Yes, by all means, explain WHY - always explain why.. Even at 2 or 3 yrs, children understand a lot more than most people think they do. But don't lose sight of the fact that it's not a negotiation. Explain why *after* your expectation is met. Discuss it *after* the behavior has stopped.

        You are not your child's friend, you are his parent. Friendship can come later, if he survives through is twenties long enough to grow into a reasonable facsimile of a human being.

        • by Doctor O (549663)

          Amen. As a father of three, I wholeheartedly second everything you say - especially the part of making decisions for your children and being their parent, not their friend or partner. Being a parent is *not* symmetrical, nor should it be. Quite the opposite it's your duty to protect your children from things they can not or should not do (yet?).

          To me, the essence of parenting is guidance, consequence, and, most of all love. Telling kids 'no' and sticking to it is more of a sign of love than most people (esp

    • f you don't want your kids using your tablets or phones, don't let them. I have no trouble letting my kids use the tablets and the phones. At the same time I don't let them play on them all day long. If they finish their homework and chores, they get some play time. And if they want to play a game on the tablet during their play time, well what is so wrong with that?

      Exactly this. Set limits. Stick to them. Remember who is the parent and who is the chid. If you don't want your child using more than X amount of tech, then there is *no* excuse in the world for them to be getting away with doing so.

      My kid (3) likes to get time on a tablet, and time watching TV. But given a choice between tablet, tv, or 'working' in the yard with me (eg, poking at the dirt with his tools and periodically helping me when he's interested), he'll pick the yard every time.

      On average he's allowed a combined 45 mintues of screen time in a day, though sometimes he'll get more and sometimes less. On days when there is no screen time it's generally because he or we are wrapped up doing other things. He doesn't sneak around trying to get to this stuff if we're not watching closely- he knows he's not allowed. He also knows that these things are privileges that can and sometimes do get taken away for bad behavior. When that happens he gets mad and cries and screams - but then gets over it goes playing happily with such high tech toys such as Legos .

      I see parents on a regular basis who just hand their phones over to their toddlers withotu a second thought, and this just baffles me. I see some of those parents try to refuse, the kid starts whining/crying, and the parent hands over the device anyway. This baffles me too. As a parent, your job is not to cater to your child's every whim. It is not to shut your child up with a gadget because actually tending your child isinconvenient to your life. Your job is to be a parent.

      • Not parents. Good parenting requires walking a middle path where you are kind, protective, and providing to your children but not overly permissive or accommodating. It is not the easiest thing to do. So bad parents, and there are many, fall to one extreme. They either tend to be overly authoritarian, expecting that their needs and demands are primary and children are to do as they are told, no matter what, and often using violence to get their way, or just as a release of anger. Or they are overly permissi

      • by _anomaly_ (127254)

        Disclaimer: I'm not a parent. I have spent a lot of time with one niece and several nephews, and have witnessed a lot of parenting of younger children.

        From my point of view, it seems that a lot of parents often forget that children can be very different, even at the same age. It's easy to say "yes, of course the same thing won't work with every child!", but it seems that often people will stop right there, and not consider the reason that some children are different and that the answer "just try Y inst

  • Cute but meaningless in a world of the red queen hypothesis

  • so why no cable or satellite?

  • Phew. It means they can still use the original Amiga 1000 from 1985.
  • At least in theory. According to this PC world article, Can You Do Real Work With the 30-Year-Old IBM 5150? [pcworld.com] they were able to do basic internet things. But I think that may be bending the spirit of the rules. Also, Contiki was ported to x86. [slashdot.org]
  • by porges (58715) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:34PM (#44858675) Homepage

    I never say stuff like this, but: if they really want to be more like a 1980s family maybe these parents of a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old should be married? ..wait, I just read more of TFA. They moved into their current house BECAUSE it was built in the 1980s? Jesus. The father has a mullet, and so the kids.

    Oh come on, this is some kind of trolling lifestyle.

  • Good for them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:36PM (#44858687)
    The more kids are raised using their own brains to entertain themselves rather than a gadget, the better.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by multiben (1916126)
      How does artificially cutting your children off from a huge part of the world help develop their brain in a healthy way? As opposed to teaching them how to interact with the world in a responsible and constructive way? Creating a little bubble to isolate your children from things that you don't understand, but one day they will not be able to work without, is the real dysfunction here.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MitchDev (2526834)

        Seriously.

        "Overreacting idiot parents cripple their children's future" should be the title of the article

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by c0lo (1497653)

        How does artificially cutting your children off from a huge part of the world help develop their brain in a healthy way?

        Like... umm... having 1 in 10 kids diagnosed with ADHD may be related to the use of gadgets [time.com]?

        As opposed to teaching them how to interact with the world in a responsible and constructive way?

        Do I detect a false dichotomy here? The responsible and constructive way of interacting with the world is mandatory to be done using gadgets?

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:36PM (#44858691) Homepage

    " 'That's kind of when it hit me because I'm like, wow, when I was a kid, I lived outside,' "

    I too am "like wow", but for a completely different set of reasons.

  • So they only do cocaine?
  • Electronic Sabbath (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:44PM (#44858751) Homepage

    When our kids were around 10 and 12 years old, we started observing a Sabbath.
    Sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday: no electric lights, radios, TVs, and--especially--no computers.
    We'd never observed a sabbath for any religions reason, but we decided to try this,
    partly as an experiment, and partly as an attempt to reclaim our lives from electronic media.

    The first time we did it, I expected the kids to go ballistic, but they pretty much rolled with it, and it became a regular part of our household.
    It did change our rhythms and activities.
    We would read or play (card, board, dice) games in the evening.
    People went to sleep earlier.

    We kept it up for a year or two.
    I can't say exactly why we stopped.
    The kids got older; life intervened.

  • by jimshatt (1002452) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:45PM (#44858761)
    I'm going to to this as well, but I'll wait for my kids to become adolescents first. It's just more fun that way!
    • Why would it be more fun? Most teens typically have far more trouble coping with such drastic change than little kids, as they have ingrained entertainment/interaction/etc. habits, more complex daily lives, schoolwork requiring a current computer, and a powerful drive to fit in -- so a year of abstaining from modern technology would make them even more rebellious/angsty but not have a lasting impact.

      As an example: losing access to my computer & Nintendo as a pre-teen was annoying, as they were my favor

  • Sure, there were a few single moms who had kids out of wedlock, but it was still relatively rare among the whitebread set. I guess that commitment thing only goes so far.

  • At least they still get to use a Commodore 64, and an Amiga :D

  • This is dumb. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TsuruchiBrian (2731979) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @06:55PM (#44858843)

    They're doing it because their kids – Trey, 5, and Denton, 2 – wouldn't look up from their parents' iPhones and iPads long enough to kick a ball around the backyard. 'That's kind of when it hit me because I'm like, wow, when I was a kid, I lived outside,' says Blair adding that now 'we're parenting our kids the same way we were parented for a year just to see what it's like.' The McMillans do their banking in person instead of online.

    I had an NES in 1986. My parents had the exact same concerns about my siblings and me playing video games instead of playing outside.

    If anything, with mobile devices, now, people *can* go outside and still be connected to whatever they want.

    Going to the bank takes away time that could be used to kick the ball around the back yard as well.

    If these parents were having trouble getting their kids to go play outside, surely it would have been easier to force the kids to simply go play outside without their ipads than it was to transport their whole family back in time 30 years.

    If you are nostalgic for 1986, then just say so. You don't need an incoherent justification to be different. "I thought it would be interesting", is a perfectly legitimate reason to do something.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      If these parents were having trouble getting their kids to go play outside, surely it would have been easier to force the kids to simply go play outside without their ipads than it was to transport their whole family back in time 30 years.

      Seconded!

      Before computers, it was TV and video games... If your kids are spending too much time on it, SHUT IT OFF (but not permanently). Plenty of parents limit their kids' TV and computer time to very few hours each week.

      Those things can all be educational, positive in

  • They recently traveled across the United States using paper maps and entertaining their screaming kids with coloring books and stickers, passing car after car with TVs embedded in the headrests and content infants seated in the back.

    Ah yes, back in the Good Old Days everyone knew that the ideal way to travel with kids was to make a big bed in the back of the station wagon and just let 'em all roll around loose.

    Then again, Green Tortoise bus lines [faludidesign.com] took that idea to whole new corporate level....
  • Commodore 64!!
  • by MrKevvy (85565) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @07:16PM (#44858939)

    It's even in the title of TFA: "Guelph family lives like it's 1986". Guelph is about 100km/60+mi. west of Toronto so isn't a suburb (it has its own university among other things.)

  • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Sunday September 15, 2013 @07:37PM (#44859035)
    So, does this family use an average "PC clone" (e.g. the crappy and incompatible AT&T 6300) from the era, which would be a turbo XT with CGA graphics, or do they splurge and run the best 386 Compaq Deskpro with EGA graphics that they could find? (Of course, both computers now cost the same on the secondary market, while the Deskpro would have cost 10x as much as the XT in 1986...)
  • Actually they would have it harder trying to live an 80s lifestyle now than in the 80s. For example, at one time there was a pay phone on every corner, now they're all gone. So it was much easier to communicate when you weren't at home then than now if you don't have a cell phone.

  • by EnergyScholar (801915) on Monday September 16, 2013 @01:54AM (#44860771)
    I find the responses from the slashdot crowd telling. While a few people expressed some support, most seemed horrified. That's quite comical, and more than a bit disturbing. It tells me that many slashdot readers have a problem with too much technology, in the same sense as some people have a problem with too much alcohol. Those people would be wise to spend more time outdoors surrounded by greenery, read more books, and turn off their phones for a few weeks every now and then. If the prospect of turning off your phone for a week disturbs you that's a great indicator that you have a problem.
  • by jandersen (462034) on Monday September 16, 2013 @03:19AM (#44861105)

    My first thought when I read this was "That's a good idea, really" - not because I am against modern technology, but they have challenged themselves in a way, and found that it gives them something of real value.

    I don't quite know if I find it amusing or shocking to see the sort of reactions here, even to the extremes of declaring that this is child abuse and an impending, national emergency. Really, you sound like a bunch of old prudes upon discovering that their teenage granddaughter as uncovered her ankle in public. What's up with you guys? Scared of the very thought that these people might be right, and you ought to put down your wankGadget and go into the big room with the blue ceiling?

    Going outside, getting exercise, feeling the wind, sunshine and rain, meeting people and generally challenging yourself physically, socially and mentally are all good for you. You even become a better coder if you are not glued to the internet socket all day long. You will have more energy, you will feel less depressed.

    I think we should applaud these guys - the internet and modern technology are good tools, but they are TOOLS. They shouldn't fill your whole life any more than a hammer or a frying pan.

  • my 2yr old (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kwikrick (755625) on Monday September 16, 2013 @03:54AM (#44861225) Homepage Journal

    My 2 year old loves playing with tablets, phones, computers, electronic toys, etc. I have to admit I sometimes worry about that a bit. On the one hand i feel that it's actually good - she'll need those skills in her future - and i'm proud that those little fingers already know how to navigate user interfaces. She's learning words and pictures from playing simple games and toddler apps. On the other hand, i worry that stuff is overstimulating - bright colors, music, sounds, pictures of cute little animals - like candy wrappers, made to attract kids to something unhealthy, and addictive. Also, most apps are very limited and repetitive, not engaging a child's creativity.

    But then, what do i do when I've got some free time? I sit behind my computer, or in front of the tv, mostly. And kids imitate what their parents do. Also I have to admit I do find it convenient to have my hand free when she's focused on a led screen.

    Fortunately, my little girl also loves to go outside. If I leave her with the tablet, she'll get bored after a while and will want to do something else. She'll come to me and drag me outside.

    So, if your kid spends a lot of time playing with electronic toys, it's probably because they're imitating you. You want you kid to do more creative stuff, art & crafts, do it yourself! Do the dishes by hand, and they'll want to help out. Kids can moderate themselves, but they don't want to do what you want them to do when you want them to. Sometimes you'll need to force them to do things, but try to avoid it. Instead, be ready to join in their activities. So if your child wants to go outside in the rain, put on your boots and go stamp in some puddles together. Technology may be a bit additive (not immune myself) but making it illegal will only make it more attractive. Let technology work for you, let them learn from it, and enjoy it, while you can do something else, or join in the fun. Your kid will get bored with it after a while, and then you need to be ready to offer alternatives.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

Working...