"The Experiment": Mom Unplugged Kids from Internet and Media

What happens when you take away your teenagers' TV, iPods, cell phones, video games and even - gasp - Internet?

Susan Maushart did that to her three kids for 6 months in what she called "The Experiment" and lived to tell about it.

And something with as grand as "The Experiment," you'd need to kick it off in a grand way - which is exactly what Susan did:

She turned off the electricity completely for a few weeks — candles instead of electric lights, no hot showers, food stored in a cooler of ice. When blackout boot camp ended, Maushart hoped the "electricity is awesome!" reaction would soften the kids' transition to life without Google and cell phones.

The result is surprisingly (or not surprisingly, for some people anyhow) are good:

Her son Bill, a videogame and TV addict, filled his newfound spare time playing saxophone. "He swapped Grand Theft Auto for the Charlie Parker songbook," Maushart wrote. Bill says The Experiment was merely a "trigger" and he would have found his way back to music eventually. Either way, he got so serious playing sax that when the gadget ban ended, he sold his game console and is now studying music in college.

Maushart's eldest, Anni, was less wired and more bookish than the others, so her transition in and out of The Experiment was the least dramatic. Her friends thought the ban was "cool." If she needed computers for schoolwork, she went to the library. Even now, she swears off Facebook from time to time, just for the heck of it.

Maushart's youngest daughter, Sussy, had the hardest time going off the grid. Maushart had decided to allow use of the Internet, TV and other electronics outside the home, and Sussy immediately took that option, taking her laptop and moving in with her dad — Maushart's ex-husband — for six weeks. Even after she returned to Maushart's home, she spent hours on a landline phone as a substitute for texts and Facebook.

But the electronic deprivation had an impact anyway: Sussy's grades improved substantially. Maushart wrote that her kids "awoke slowly from the state of cognitus interruptus that had characterized many of their waking hours to become more focused logical thinkers."


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Have to disagree with all of this. The experiment was good in that it showed the impact that electronics have on some. If the electronics are moderated, they still exist, a child might be doing a chore or other item before going to the electronics so to speak but in the back of the mind still thinking about the impending event. To top that, it can further remind the child that the chore is still a chore.

The last child, Sussy, was reported to have better grades in this allocated to her more focused mental state.

The second child, Anni, reported only slight to moderate changes as this was still a relative norm.

The first child, Bill, was said to have traded his console for music. Whether or not this is a good or bad thing I leave to everyone else to decide.

Also on the first comment, seriously? As in are you really saying that about this article? So if your more fortunate, the alternative is for children to run wild without restraints on what they have? It was a lesson in how to restrain and live without the excess.
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I agree 100% with "Vonskippy".

Parent didn't know how to moderate her kids time and did a cold turkey experiment.

I have a rule in my house: No Fun Until Homework Is Done.

My son comes home and immediately addresses his homework. Then, only then, does he get to use Internet, TV, games. This even goes for non-electronics. Homework comes first.

After that I limit his time as appropriate. If I think he's playing games too long I'll give him a five minute warning and tell him to get off the TV/computer/game and do something else. He does so.

That's called parenting.

This "experiment" was an over-reaction to under-parenting issues.
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So, to recap, we have a extremely lax mother who let her self indulgent weak willed one parent children ignore their schoolwork and then found out that with less distractions even weak willed kids can stay focused on schoolwork. Wow!!!!!!! I predict a Nobel coming her way.
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Yeah, I really do not see it as an experiment due to the fact that I know of kids who live in a home that still has dirt/wooden floors, is heated by a wood stove and has NO electricity. they take a shower at a realtives home, or wash up with a pail of water from the tiny little stream behind the house, which is where their "cooler" is.
For them, that is not an experiment it is everyday life.

Maybe she could teach the kids how to help other kids living that "experiment" life. ?
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