Parenting Like It’s 1986: Taking Technology Back

Image via Flickr/Nina Matthews Photography

Blair McMillan and his girlfriend, Morgan, dared to do the unthinkable in a generation like ours. They decided to rid themselves, as well as their two young sons (ages 5 and 2), of all technology that was younger than themselves – 27 years-old. They’re spending a year in the world of cassette tapes and land line telephones to try to reconnect with their young children and each other. Let’s be real, here. If the average family that consisted of teenaged kids tried to put into family law what the McMillans did in their family of four, there would be mutiny at the communal level.

Now, before I offer my two cents’ worth on this issue, as one who is attached so much to his slick new phone that he is constantly checking his phone for texts from friends that he doesn’t have, I’m going to step back and say, “You know what? That doesn’t sound like a bad idea.” Granted, I’m not sure why Monty Python and the Holy Grail on VHS would be any less addicting than its brother on DVD, but that’s not the point.

Whenever I take the four-hour drive to my parents’ place, my brothers, upon my arrival, always ask me if I have any new games on my phone that they can play. Without fail, their response to my informing them that I downloaded a new crossword puzzle app is always the same—they roll their eyes, letting me know how stupid crossword puzzles are  and go back to the 90+ games that they have at their disposal on my dad’s tablet.

Therein lies the problem. My younger brothers have become bored of the fad that is my dad’s tablet. My brothers very well could have downloaded whatever game they wanted, but they weren’t drawn to that. They were drawn to my slick new phone because it was the newest fad.

So if kids like fads, have you ever considered introducing them to a fad of your choosing? Now, don’t take that as an invitation to become tyrannical. Just suggest some things that you feel would be more beneficial to your kids’ well-being, as well as being less likely to turn their brains into chowder. As much as I like chowder, it has no place in your kids’ skulls.

For example, what is the newest fad in books? (I honestly have no idea because I am picking up Harry Potter for the first time.) Get your kids hooked on books. And, hey! You could get them the coolest new e-reader if they’re still warped from technology.

This next suggestion will definitely be met with skepticism. But I can testify that this became a fad for some of my friends (despite mentioning earlier that I am bereft of friends. I digress.) I can count on two hands the amount of friends that I have that love knitting. (Insert terrible pun about being close-knit friends.) Whether or not this can be seen as fortunate, I never jumped on that bandwagon—my anxiety wouldn’t allow me to knit. But, I’ve had some friends make some really nice GPS and camera cases for me.

Be creative with things that you can get your kids hooked on. If you can get ten-plus 24 year olds hooked on knitting, you’re bound to find something that interests each of your kids that doesn’t necessarily need to have its battery recharged every day.

What is your take? Is the McMillan family on to something? Have you ever avoided a technological update? 

What do you think?

Parenting Like It’s 1986: Taking Technology Back

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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  1. Moe says:

    Catching up on emails and I saw the title of this article “Parenting Like It’s 1986” and thought “YES! FINALLY! A mother who sees what I see!” And then thought “Oh, it’s a guy writing this”. Not that that was a bad thing, just unexpected. Then I realized it was nothing about what I was thinking…well, not completely.
    I can see where the McMillian’s are coming from, being a product of the 70s and 80s myself, I’m struggling with technology. I’m a first time mom at the great age of 40 and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to raise my son in a different world than what I grew up in. How am I to protect him from technology when I don’t fully understand it myself? I think what I don’t understand is what has been developed from it…Social Media (I know, laugh, I’m using social media right now. Actually, this is probably the 4th time I’ve ever typed anything publicly).
    What I’m really looking for are for other first time mother’s, or father’s, at 40. How will you handle technology with your child?

  2. Lorna says:

    Once a month my family has a “no technology” day we usually go out and spend the day outside dont use our car turn off our phones. we just have a nice day remembering that all we need is each other not all this technology to survive….

  3. Phammom says:

    I will use technology but try to do so with the intent it’s just a tool. I always do the lowest smart phone so hopefully that helps.

  4. Brilliant post, Jace! My kids and I are off for a little Harry Potter time.

  5. KyBegin says:

    I hope our kids will be raised… Similar to this. We do not have electricity, outside of a small solar panel for charging a phone and or small DVD player and are just about to have our first baby! Our plan is to get our kids interested in productive and stimulating activities that we feel most kids don’t get enough of because they spend so much of their early years being entertained by flashing lights, loud music, tv, video games, ect.
    It seems like it is pretty difficult to get the average, I don’t know…, 5? Year old interested in anything that isn’t electronic and I hope I can give my children a different start.

    • I have a feeling your children will have a most beautiful childhood. You’re an inspiration to those of us who rely on our electronics too much – we need to remember how to live without them, sometimes. Thanks for sharing.

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