For any parent who has ever texted their child to the dinner table - or yanked the modem from its socket in a show of primal parental rage - this account of one family’s self-imposed exile from the Information Age will leave you ROFLing (Rolling-on-the-Floor Laughing) with recognition. But it will also challenge you to take stock of your own family connections, to create a media ecology that encourages kids - and parents - to thrive.
At the simplest level, The Winter of Our Disconnect is the story of how one family survived six months of wandering through the desert - digitally speaking - and the lessons learned about themselves and technology along the way. At the same time, their story is a channel to a wider view - into the impact of new media on the lives of families and into the very heart of the meaning of home.
This title was as much a comment on parenting techniques as it was about attitudes to devices. Early in the book I thought it shared some themes with 'Bringing Up Bebe' by Pamela Druckerman (also available on Audible): an American author living in another country, trying her best to bring up her children to be decent members of society. Admittedly, Maushart's children are plugged-in teenagers rather than impatient toddlers, but the level of attention paid to their mother was about the same.
As a parent bringing up children in this digital age, I have worried about how we will balance our kids needs to plug in with my somewhat rose-tinted view that they should be outside making mud-pies. Maushart's conclusions didn't really have give any surprises: you turn off the TV, you talk more. But, as with 'Bringing Up Bebe', I was compelled to hear what the family's response and results were, and whilst many of the ideas are common sense, often it helps to have someone state the obvious to remind you that these things matter. Many of Maushart's thoroughly researched statistics made for sobering listening, and I have been left with some pointers that I have agreed with my (super-techy) husband, that they should be incorporated into family life.
The irony that I was often checking facebook and my email while listening to the audiobook was not lost on me either - it may be some time before I can change my own habits...
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Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I would recommend this book to all folk of a certain age who feel vaguely bemused as to how far technology has taken us...and how fast! Those of us who remember times before mobile phones, let alone ones that are smart.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The Winter of Our Disconnect?
I enjoyed the way the author was the first to admit her own gadget addictions, but yet went ahead ruthlessly to carry out her gadget, technology free experiment, despite her mqny qualms.
What about Jennifer Wiltsie’s performance did you like?
The book is well performed and pulls you into the to-and-fro of 'conversation' between parent and teens.
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
This book did make me laugh...sometimes out loud! And whimsical too - is it really so hard to remember back to a time without all our gadgets? And would we want to? For me, listening and enjoying this portrayal of one families' experience, the answer is well, yes...maybe!
I have three kids, all of which I feel are deficient in social skills, largely due to me and my ex-wife's decision to allow them free access to all technology at very early ages. I realised I made this mistake, and I tried to correct this after the divorce, which of course turned me into the "strict parent" that no teenager wants to live with. I congratulate the author for sticking to her guns and seeing the "experiment" through and I applaud her children for "finding" themselves again. I'm only sad that she gave up on Australia.