A Canadian family is going viral with a novel idea.
It has banned all technology that was made after 1986 as a way to get their young children to play outside more.
Blair McMillan, 27, and girlfriend Morgan, 27, and their children Trey, 2, and Denton, 5, are planning to live like it’s 1986 for at least a year.
“No cell phones, no computers, no internet. I basically wanted to mould it around my household when I was growing up,” McMillan told The Morning Edition on Thursday. “I used to live outside, playing outside, and I realised how different my kids are.”
The family’s experiment has been widely reported in the Canadian and US press, with many readers applauding their efforts.
“Good for them and their kids. It takes initiative and courage to do what they’re doing,” said a commenter on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website.
According to the Toronto Sun, Blair hit upon the idea when the children could not tear themselves away from their parents’ iPhones and iPads long enough to kick a ball around in the garden.
The new rule means their home is now without internet, GPS devices and smartphones, and no digital cameras or cable television.
To listen to music, they rummage through a pile of cassettes. If they need information, they consult a set of encyclopedia donated by a bemused neighbour. If MacMillan needs to find his way, he consults a paper map.
The 1986 date was the year both the parents were born and reflects a longing for the more traditional childhood they enjoyed.
“We’re parenting our kids the same way we were parented, for a year, just to see what it’s like,” said Blair, who even sports a strange 1980s haircut.
The parents did feel anxiety about closing their Facebook accounts, and Blair even says he felt a phantom mobile phone buzzing in his pocket for a few days, but now they feel it has brought the family together.
“We’re just closer – there’s more talking,” he said.