The Winter of Our Disconnect
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The Winter of Our Disconnect

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  937 ratings  ·  267 reviews
For any parent who's ever IM-ed 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 with recognition. But it will also challenge you to take stock of your own family connections, to create a media ecology that encourages kids...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published May 3rd 2010 by Random House Australia
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2011: What the Over 35s Have Read So Far
173rd out of 1,834 books — 457 voters
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Stunt non-fiction
37th out of 50 books — 13 voters


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Community Reviews

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Anthony Eaton
This is an important book.

And to follow on from this grand opening statement, I'm going to make another.

This book changed the way I live.

If you follow my blog, or know me, or have seen my office, you'll know that I'm something of a techno-junkie. Not hardcore, you understand, I can quit it at any time, and I just like the way it makes me feel, but nevertheless, I'm typing this review up on my iBook, which is hooked up to two screens for easier data management. Beside me on the desk is my iPad (...more
Ellie
The Winter of Our Disconnect is the author's take on Thoreau's Walden, or Life in the Woods-in her case, her pulling the plug for herself and her three teens on the digital world for six months.

The book is uneven in quality-I found the interspersing of journal entries with straightforward narrative an interesting idea that nevertheless felt awkward and not fully integrated into the text-but the information about the digital world and its effect on our children was fascinating. I also enjoyed the...more
Kathy Hiester
I searched high and low at the chain bookstores before finally breaking down and ordering The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart from Amazon. I just want to let you know that I sit here writing this I have my email, facebook, and two blogs open in Firefox on my computer.
Maushart is a single parent of three who after questioning the effect of decides to enforce a six-month ban of technology in the house, and write about the development. She actually has significant doubt up until the very...more
Deb
Mar 11, 2011 Deb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I'm not sure how I came across this book--some random search probably, which is funny considering the content. At any rate, I was intrigued by the premise: a single mother with 3 teenagers--all tethered to their technology 24/7 (including the mom)--unplugs the family for 6 months. They go completely screen-free at their house (and even electricity-free for the first month).

The results are really only surprising if you're the kind of person who's never lived without the latest gadget or limited...more
Lada Moskalets
Експеримент американської журналістки, яка вирішила на півроку перетворити свій дім на screen-free зону - без смартфонів, планшетів, телевізорів і т.д. Найголовніше, що цим також мали перестати користуватися троє дітей-підлітків авторки, яких вона підкупила, пообіцявши поділитися гонораром від майбутньої книжки. С'юзан надихалася насамперед Генрі Торо і протягом всього експерименту вона порівнює свої враження з його. Дуже багато роздумів (з ухилом в "куди котиться наш світ") на тему того, як інт...more
Karla Butler
I'm not a fan of non-fiction but I thought this was an interesting premise for a book. A single mother of 3 teenagers decides to pull the plug on technology for a couple of months. By doing so, she learns that there is more to life than toying with your I-Phone or connecting with your friends on Facebook. Susan Maushart includes many sociological studies to underline her point that something is wrong. While we have more access to technological communication, our innate social skills have somewha...more
JoLene
I really enjoyed this book. As stated in the title, the author, a single mother of 3 teenagers) decides that their family needs to unplug so she declares their house a "screen-free" zone, meaning no TV, computers, or iPods. The book chronicles their experience as well as highlights some of the different research about how our constantly connected lifes are having on society. As an example, are our brains evolving so that today's children are actually able to truly multi-task. Or better yet, in t...more
Robin Nicholas
A mom and her 3 teenagers (ages 14, 15, and 18) were going to "unplug" for 6 months to see how their lives would change. To begin with, the level that they were "plugged In" was utterly disgusting. Everyone including mom, were either on a laptop, a gaming system, or their phone pretty much 24 hours a day. There were literally NO rules. The 14 year old was allowed to sleep with her laptop on her lap. Apparently, she didn't really sleep that well (duh), so she wanted to be able to play games and...more
Ellen
I got this book for a dollar or two off Amazon after seeing a blurb about it somewhere online (yes, a little ironic). I'd already been thinking about this issue for a while, feeling uneasy about the increasingly obvious effects of my lack of restraint when it came to media usage. It was definitely ironic that the day after I ordered the book, we ran over our monthly internet allotment, and I ended up reading it during the ensuing weeklong web-access hiatus. Hah.

In this book, Susan Maushart discu...more
Marcia
I picked this one up because I enjoy the "Do something for one year" and write about it genre. Cook like Julia, create a Happiness project, don't buy anything new....you know. So the premise here is a single mom and her three teens go screen-less for 6 months. No computers, cell phones, TV, or iPods. Maushart's account is a well-researched, fascinating look at the effects of media on our lives. The brain research on how these tools impacts our kids is particularly interesting to me. We cannot mu...more
Donna Lyn
wasn't what i thought it would be (a diary or tale of their experience). it had some of that but it was all over the place and tons of (ironically) googled studies that all contradicted each other leaving no formed opinions on anything. even the bliss of unplugging was replaced by the bliss of redoing the family room to welcome back the gadgets after 5 months of bribery (she paid her kids to abstain). the overuse of LOL was annoying and "blobbiness"? i read the whole thing in an Australian accen...more
Jonathan
An expertly mixed blend of the self-experimentation-as-journalism trend and a survey of current research on the effect of screen time on your average human being.

The writing is witty and smart, and alternates frequently between a journal of the disconnected experience and more objective overviews of studies that look at the issues just raised by the journal. It's like a television show that changes cameras every ten seconds: just when you're getting a little tired of one format, BAM! There's ano...more
L.J.
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 Tell the Tale Susan Maushart, Penguin, $16.95 trade paper (329p) ISBN 978-1-58542-855-7

Maushart (The Mask of Motherhood) embarked with her three teenagers on a six-month screen blackout (no cellphones, iPods, PCs, laptops, game stations, or television) to discover if the technology intended to stimulate and keep us virtually more connected was...more
JeNeal
This book sat on my "shelf" for weeks because I really didn't think I would enjoy it. I had decided it was another quirky book by an Australian, and it kind of is--but it's so much more. I finally just opened it in the middle to take a sample and I was indeed pulled into the story and the rest is history as they say. Susan Maushart is a New Yorker who happens to be living in Perth because (see pages 41-43). She is a columnist who has a wonderful way of taking all manner of the latest research ou...more
Gavin
Could you give up your gadgets for half a year? Maushart and her three wired teenagers did, in what she called The Experiment. Recognising the great extent of their collective dependence on technology, and the impact it had on the family's interpersonal relations, this single Mother decided to see just what would happen when games, smart phones, iPods, PCs and other gadgets were banned at home. The book is very well written (she is a journalist for the ABC), cites many studies, quotes facts and...more
Maureen
An article about this book inspired our family of four to give up television for Lent this year and after waiting for a month for it to come off of the hold list at my library, I basically devoured this book. Although at four and six, my children are much younger than Maushart's, I really felt like this book was a cautionary tale about what happens when you allow technology to take over your children's lives; and your own. The examples of sleep deprivation and personality changes were eye-openin...more
Jared Kelley
The premise is epic and the results are riveting. Dr. Susan Maushart, a Perth based journalist for Australia's ABC, willingly leads herself and her three children into the life of a 21st century social-media-luddite, and it was the best decision she could have made. Far flung from the technophobic stigma that could be pinned to her for this experiment, her six months of technological reprieve rejuvenated her drive for life and her children's creative being. This book teaches us that social media...more
Rachel
Absolutely Fascinating! This family was about as fully immersed in technology as you can be. It was downright scary to read all the changes that occured in their lives from their little media experiment. Most of the book is devoted to research on topics like boredome, iphone,blackberry, and & ipod addiction, the impact of technology on schoolwork, eating and sleeping habits of teenagers ect. The authors quirky style, her journal at the time, and the hilarious comments by her hip teenagers ma...more
Anna
Interesting, and sometimes very funny, but I did not relate well to Maushart's digital world, her dependence on email, phone etc. was more surprising to me than the results of her experiment.
Karen
THANK YOU Maushart family for sacrificing 6 months of precious screen time. We are now able to use your tribulations and triumphs as an eye opening education.I would categorize this book as "Mandatory Reading for All". LOVED it. I am already averse to having technology so readily available at ALL times. This book was a reinforcer to my own beliefs and will (hopefully) be an eye opener for many "tech-ies". Have you ever realized how much we are "pushed" into more and more screen time? This only g...more
Stacy
Loved the experiment, research, and subject of this book. Media usage in our home has been on my mind.
Warning: If you are squeamish about foul language, as I am, beware. The author, though not a down under native, seems to have adopted the indiscriminate use of swear words seemingly prevalent among the Aussies and New Zealanders I have encountered. She is a New Yorker which may also account for her offending vocabulary. It is not an every other word situation, just a few rather shocking bombs he...more
Elizabeth
Even without Ms. Maushart's annoying witticisms (..."I try to read Walden at least as often as I have a pap smear." cringe.) this book failed to resonate. Much of what she writes is commonsense stuff. I was hoping for more anecdotal and instead slogged through data and studies.

And, I have to say again that the constant LOLs, attempts at humor, and forced self-deprecation really detracted from the book. This was not the story that I thought was described in many reviews. Disappointing.
Jessica
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! As I started through the first few chapters I thought, “Oh no, an Australian single mother with three teenagers, I’m never going to be able to relate.” I was quickly proven wrong as I sped through the rest of the book. I’ll admit it is a little statistic-heavy and full of references to research studies, but I still found the stories of Susan Maushart and her kids reminiscent of myself, my family, my friends, and my co-workers. It’s not surprising...more
Trace
2012 Booklist

LOVED, LOVED this book. The author has this incredibly sharp, witty sense of humour that had me rolling on the floor, practically peeing my pants while at the same time, nodding my head because I could sympathise and relate to her addictions to technology.

Her experiment will be inspiring to read for anyone who craves a much simpler, "back to basics" lifestyle...

Highly recommended.
Ann Olson
This quote near the end summarized why I was able to take Maushart so seriously: "Ultimately, however, and no matter how strongly held our convictions, we must live in this world- the one to which, for better or worse, we find ourselves tuned. 'When one arrives at the point of reflecting about the prefer-ability of the past to the present,' observes Patricia Meyer-Spacks, 'it's time to change direction.'" If this had turned into another book where the past was being idealized, I wouldn't have be...more
Cathy
So many funny lines. Susan makes me laugh but also lots of good research. I canned my facebook page when I finished because I realised it wasn't really satisfying for me to connect with people. I might change my mind in the future but just for now I'm noticing all the the things that were mentioned about not keeping up technologically and sitting with it........
Lisa Lewis
This book was an interesting exploration of the idea that our media- and screen-saturated lives would be improved without constant exposure to computers, televisions and smart phones. The author and her teen children did a 6 month fast from screens and electronics in their home, and, no surprise, were the better for it. Intertwined with the personal story, journalist Maushart provides a lay perspective on research that considers the effect of the modern Facebook/Twitter/Play Station lifestyle.
W...more
Camille Mccarthy
Extremely well-researched and witty. I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I learned a lot about how technology actually makes our lives a lot more complicated in many ways and leads us down some unfortunate paths in terms of lost connectivity to other people and the life around us as opposed to the internet. I highly suggest it, as it will change your perceptions on modern life and lead to you maybe put down the computer and take a technology vacation once in a while.
The wri...more
Emily
This book is really fucking horrible.
Sally
Although it took me a while to adjust to the author's snappy witticisms, which I found more annoying than charming, I found this book very interesting. She writes about her family's (her and three teenaged children) experience of living six months without technology. As she describes the changes in their habits and daily lives, she cites research about the effects of technology and its generally negative impact on our world today. I found it helpful to hear about the differences in the way that...more
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The ending! 3 26 Jun 30, 2010 02:24PM  
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Columnist, author and social commentator Dr. Susan Maushart is a mother of three teenagers. For over a decade, her weekly column has been part of a balanced breakfast for readers of the Weekend Australian Magazine. Maushart is heard regularly on ABC Radio's popular online series 'Multiple Choice', and is a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia....more
More about Susan Maushart...
The Mask of Motherhood: How Becoming a Mother Changes Our Lives and Why We Never Talk About It Wifework: What Marriage Really Means for Women What Women Want Next: In my 20s I thought sex and career would solve everything. At 30 I thought marriage would. Later I tried motherhood, therapy, and then divorce. At 40, I decided to renovate. The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (and a Mother Who Slept with with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale Pause

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