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Through the Eyes of Our Teens

Has anyone seen the short video Life Without Technology at Temple University or read The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart? Well, if you haven’t, here’s a great short cut.

Teen blogger, Harrison, compares and contrasts both of these perspectives of a life without technology, and his closing remarks are interesting to hear as a parent.

While my first reaction was to roll my eyes at the melodramatic black and white, silent filmesque format of the video you’re about to watch, Harrison’s blog entries really got me thinking…

Could it be that our teens have gotten too  comfortable with technology and are actually more capable of disconnecting than they know? I encourage you to set aside 4 minutes and 17 seconds for the video below.

Teen melodrama or reality?

Maybe this intentionally exaggerated clip really was an accurate peep inside the minds of our teens. I know that sometimes my generally charming sons  do over-react when I set screen limits or try to take away the technology that they’ve grown to know and love. The clip not only transitions to color when the students step into a life with technology, but also depicts a happier student body, united by technology and studying together in the last few seconds.

I’m definitely aware that technology has made my sons’ lives simpler, faster and easier and I wouldn’t ever want them to have to return to the days of “manually” finding a library book. I couldn’t help but wonder, however, were my teens too “sucked in” by technology? Sure online library catalogs are great, but did they really need to be constantly connected to it all?

When we thunder ‘But how can you THINK with that racket going on?’ they explain sweetly, ‘The thing is: Our brains are different. – The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart

Like Harrison, this quote definitely resonates with me as a mother of three technologically wired boys. It’s not unusual to find one of my sons plugged in to study, text, or check his Facebook while watching TV, playing a video game, or writing code for fun… honestly, the mere thought of it all gives me a headache!

Brain difference or damage?

While there are a body of studies floating around on the internet that condemn this kind of multitasking, could it just be that our teens’ brains are wired differently? Have they evolved to a point where they’re able to focus in situations that we simply cannot? Possibly.

… or maybe it really was damaging their brains. If all of this technology was detrimental to their well being, what was the alternative? A winter of disconnect with no Minecraft, no Facebook, only basic power like electricity?

If the book accurately portrays that unplugging has positive, rich, and varied benefits and rewards as opposed to being on the chain attached to technology for the rest of my life, perhaps an unplug is in my future, inspired by Maushart’s memoir. – Harrison P, Blogger

It certainly is refreshing and motivating as a parent to see Harrison wonder what a life without technology would be like. Harrison is even surprised by how quickly Maushart’s sons were able to adapt to and even enjoy their six months of disconnect. They find other ways to keep themselves entertained like reading Harry Potter together and learning to play the piano.

So really, life without technology wasn’t as “dull, cold and quiet” for these teens as the Temple University student video depicts.

Final Thoughts

Would you ever consider a winter of disconnect in hopes of a more peaceful and connected family life? The idea is admirable but I can already see a melodramatic sequel to the student video played out in real life by my very own kids!

So what’s the next best alternative? Setting screen limits? How do you make sure your teen takes advantage of technology but still develops other interests in life like reading and playing the piano? Let’s discuss in the comments box.

photo credit: Trebor Scholz via Flickr

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