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susan maushart

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A Life Without Gadgets

The UK's "Daybreak" (iTV) is kind of "The Today Show" with posh accents ... this segment was featured during their recent "Parent Week."  Check out the editing - presenter Nick Dixon confessed to being mega-proud of it. And the crime-scene tape is a killer! Download Here (Rick-click and Save Target As)

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The Huffington Post :: The Lost Art of Staring Into Space

The Lost Art of Staring Into SpaceElizabeth Benedict "Which do you prefer -- sex or a pastrami sandwich?" one guy asks another, though it's not a proposition but a light-hearted survey. "To tell you the truth," the other guy says, "sometimes the sandwich." This exchange is lodged in my memory, overheard a dozen years ago at a restaurant.

It reminds me of a scene from last Sunday at the Buttercup Bake Shop near my apartment, a heartbreaking power struggle involving competing temptations: technology, love and sugar. I watched a girl, about 10 years old, eat a cupcake and try to get her mother's attention, but Mom had eyes and fingers only for her iPhone. There was no evidence she'd even eaten a cupcake. She scrolled through emails for the entire time I sat next to them, 20 minutes. iPhone 1 - Cupcake 0. iPhone 1 - Daughter 0.

It made me sad to see the girl looking so bereft -- and stuffing her face with mounds of sugar while Addict Mommie's eyes bored into the screen affixed to her palm. And sadder still because I had just finished Susan Maushart's terrific book about this very problem -- our screen fixation and what it does to family life. The title says more than most do: The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to the Tell the Tale.

It's one of a number of smart new books that examines the down sides of our brave new world. Evgeny Morozov's Net Delusion: the Dark Side of Internet Freedom argues that the Internet does not have a liberal, pro-democracy bias, and that repressive governments use it more than we know to further their nefarious aims. MIT professor Sherry Turkle's Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less from Each Other is another title that says a great deal about where we are - and where we might be headed.

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The Boston Globe: Without being wired, family connected again

My fantasy review ... written by Chuck Leddy (aka my new best friend) at The Boston Globe. Without being wired, family connected again Chuck Leddy

Susan Maushart, a divorced mother of three teenagers, noticed how digital technology, from Facebook to online gaming to constant text messaging, had fractured her family into independent fiefdoms. Connected only to their devices and their online “friends,’’ the Maushart family had stopped eating together and rarely held real-world conversations. As Maushart puts it, “I started considering . . . the possibility that the more we connect, the further we may drift, the more fragmented we may become.’’

After rereading “Walden,’’ about Henry David Thoreau’s famous two-year stint living in solitude alongside a Concord pond, Maushart, a journalist and social scientist with a doctorate from New York University in communication arts and science, was inspired to begin her own experiment in mindful living: For a six-month period, she would allow her family no in-home access to any screen, including computers, cellphones, and televisions. Needless to say, her teenagers were less than thrilled, but, as Maushart’s provocative, funny, and highly personal memoir shows, it changed them all profoundly.

Maushart’s narrative contains loads of eye-opening scientific data about how digital technology has changed our living patterns. Maushart winningly blends the personal and the scientific, and her narrative tone throughout is amusingly self-effacing. Her teenagers roll their eyes when she explains how things were different when she was young. “In my day,’’ she says, “if you wanted to play violent interactive games, watch inappropriate content, and converse with dodgy strangers, you had to wait for a family reunion.’’

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