A family in 2013 survives with tech from 1986. That may sound like the plot of a new fall TV show, but in April a Canadian family got rid of all tech in their house that wasn’t around in 1986. As an experiment, they are going to try to live for one year without any post-1986 tech.
The McMillan family was prompted to try this experiment after the father Blair asked his son Trey to go outside and play ball with him. When Trey refused because he wanted to play a game on the iPad instead, Blair became concerned. “When I was a kid, I lived outside,” said McMillan.
So in April this year he and his girlfriend Morgan decided to give their two kids, Trey who is 5 and Denton who is 2, the childhood they had, without modern tech. Both Blair and Morgan were born in 1986 so they decided that was the cutoff year for tech in their house.
They locked up their computers, smartphones and tablets, cancelled their Facebook account, and got rid of cable TV (I know, cable TV was around in 1986 but this is their experiment, not mine). They use a rotary phone with no answering machine (I’m thinking they don’t have Call Waiting either). Photos are captured only on film that must later be developed. Blair even has gone so far as to sport a 1980’s hairdo, getting his hair styled into a mullet. “Business in the front, party in the back,” he says.
Here’s a video showing how the McMillans are dealing with their blast-from-the-past tech life:
If you visit the McMillan home you’ll have to lock up your tech in a box until you leave. No checking your smartphone for emails while you’re in their house. Ask Blair a question and he’ll look up the answer in a World Book encyclopedia they bought for the experiment.
The kids play on a vintage Nintendo game system in the basement with an old-school version of Mario. No DVD’s or CD’s for the McMillans, they watch videotapes on an old VCR machine and listen to music on cassette tapes. Morgan misses watching Big Brother, though they have received lots of VHS movies from their friends.
The McMillans even took a trip across the US this summer without tech. Their kids were entertained in the car with stickers and coloring books. They used paper maps to navigate their way around. Their only “cheat” is their car, a 2010 Kia.
They say that the experience has been a positive one for their family. Morgan says she reads more books. Their kids have adapted well and show more imagination when they play now. When the family began the experiment, they moved into a house that was built in the early 1980’s so their kids associate tech with their previous house. Blair admits that this experiment would be much more difficult, if not impossible, if their kids were 10 years older.
The experiment has had its drawbacks. Blair’s business has suffered because he refuses to use a computer, even for work. He can’t apply for jobs with companies who accept only online applications. He takes work orders only via fax machine so his business partner quit on him but Blair says he’s saving a lot of money by not having to pay cable or cell phone bills.
Morgan uses a computer at work but swears she hasn’t cheated otherwise. They both miss being able to connect to the Internet to find out what’s going on in the world.
The family seems well-positioned to complete their experiment and endure a year without post-1986 tech. Whether they stay committed to the 80’s, move on to the 90’s or end the experiment in April remains to be seen. Also unknown is how long Blair will be wearing his mullet.
What About You?
Could you live without tech from 1986 and later? Would you be willing to give up your post-1986 tech for a year? Would you prefer life without modern technology? What tech would you miss most?
Vote in the poll and let us know what you would miss. You can vote for more than one choice:
How would your family fare with this experiment? Do you think teenagers could be convinced to give up their post-1986 tech? Would you dare take a cross-country trip without tech? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* 1980’s cassette tape photo by Chris Jones