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Extreme unplugging: Life without technology

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 5:13 p.m. MDT

Families who are tired of screen time have been creating solutions that reduce their dependency on technology, and increase interaction and conversation. (Shutterstock) Families who are tired of screen time have been creating solutions that reduce their dependency on technology, and increase interaction and conversation. (Shutterstock)

There are those who would argue that technology has become a hindrance. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, televisions and appliances designed to make life easier have started taking over our valuable time, and some families are cutting back on plugging in.

Laura Jo Wegman and Donovan Corliss have declared their home a technology-free zone. The couple decided that they wanted to focus on simple pleasures with their two children, 6-year-old Ezra and 4-year-old Lev.

“I think TV and Internet and phones become such a time suck that people feel that they don’t have time for anything else,” Corliss told Sunset Magazine. “They don’t have time to do artwork with their kids or read books or have a conversation with one another.”

Now, the family focuses on getting outside, developing hobbies and even making pancakes from scratch — including grinding the flour by hand.

Movements like the National Day of Unplugging have been growing as people begin to recognize the addiction they have to their smartphones, the Internet and television. In fact, one Canadian family became so fed up with their young sons' constant screen time, they came up with an extreme solution: They decided to live like it is 1986. Blair McMillan and his girlfriend, Morgan, have comitted to one year without any technology that was invented after 1986, the year they were born.

“We’re parenting our kids the same way we were parented for a year just to see what it’s like,” McMillan said in the Toronto Sun.

When McMillan couldn't convince his 2-year-old to come outside and play, he decided it was time to take away the toddler's iPad and show him the world outside the Internet. He took his family on a roadtrip using a paper map, and kept the kids entertained in the car with coloring and games.

Katherine Martinko of the blog Feisty Red Hair doesn't have a TV in her house.

"It’s extremely important that my kids learn to entertain themselves," she writes on her blog. "They need to read books if they’re bored, go outside and dig holes in the dirt, ride their bikes."

Martinko explains that she is afraid her children will develop what author Richard Louv has termed "nature deficit disorder." In his book "Last Child in the Woods," he details the aspects of society that have contributed to kids spending so much more time inside, and how that hurts them.

"Environment-based education dramatically improves standardized test scores and grade point averages and develops skills in problem solving, critical thinking and decision making," Louv writes on his site. "Even creativity is stimulated by childhood experiences in nature."

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company