Family Versus Technology. That's the intriguing thesis
which provoked a California couple to stop using TV as a
nanny for their little daughter, or a substitute for
conversation, and unplug the ubiquitous internet. Could
Sharael Kolberg, her husband, and child survive A YEAR
Sharael and Jeff, a tired, busy couple, initially thought
of trying deprivation, and worked out some questions which
the experiment might answer. Such as: does technology save
us money or cost us money? Does it save time or waste
Will we regain quality time with our daughter? Jeff worked
as a marketing executive in an office but Sharael was a
home-maker so she spent the most time with Katelyn, aged
six. She had been a website producer and digital
journalist, and had taken courses online. She should know
better than anyone that the Web was indispensable. Or was
A cell phone was allowed for emergencies, radio and a
camera with film. No computer could be used except in the
workplace for work reasons; no e-mails, maps, searches,
online banking, social networking or video games in other
words. Sharael sprinkles in facts as the family adapts; an
average child spends 1680 minutes per week watching TV but
3.5 minutes having a meaningful conversation with their
parents. Now how many ads had Katelyn seen and recalled?
Entertaining her meant parks, swings, and drawing.
Dependence as with other addictions, can lead to
withdrawal. Sharael felt headachey, cranky, at a loss for
coping skills. Amusingly when she tried to trade in her
smartphone for a basic model, the salesperson couldn't
offer her any contract. Meanwhile another lady,
about a six hundred dollar monthly phone bill, was getting
a phone for her young teenage son. This caused Sharael to
check phone recycling issues. I was delighted to find a
reference to Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke; this
book helps you declutter your home, your habits and your
life. Five shelves of tech gadgets in the garage later,
Sharael realised how draining her tech habit had been.
However, other busy family members had enjoyed catching up
on family news by mail rather than take time out from
own family time to phone around. Not to mention that
Sharael's friends assumed they were away, or something,
since they didn't reply to mailed party invites.
Pay phones are seldom seen anymore and schools send out
notification by e-mail. Giving up TV is a challenge; it
takes time and planning to come up with alternatives,
Sharael found. Books can replace laptops and nature can
replace social media. Hiking can replace the gym with its
multiple screens. As the year went on her solutions became
more creative and ultimately more engaging and worthwhile.
Some resource books and websites are listed at the end.
what about losing the advantages of multitasking, and was
their child missing anything?
Read A YEAR UNPLUGGED, make
up your own mind and see if you want to emulate Sharael
Kolberg and her delightful, brave, ordinary family in this
extraordinary modern world.
In A Year Unplugged, Sharael Kolberg chronicles her
family’s brave attempt to wean themselves from technology
in an effort to reclaim quality family time. The Kolbergs
decided to turn off their television, unplug their iPods,
iPhones, laptops and digital cameras, and disconnect from
e-mail, cell phones and the Internet. Not an easy task.
Sharael’s true-life tale explores how dependent we are on
technology and the impact it has on interpersonal
relationships and society. Through thought-provoking,
humorous and heart-wrenching narrative, Sharael hopes to
compel readers to open dialogue about the conscious use of