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I think technology has hurt the immediate family but been a boon to the extended family. It is far too easy for families to each be absorbed in their own technology and not talk to each other or do things together. Communication via internet or phone is just not the same as real face to face time.
On the other hand if you have family that lives far away technology is a godsend. We can easily and cheaply talk everyday, we can use things like Skype and face time to see and interact with each other more regularly than geography would normally allow.
The key for me is to use technology to increase your ability to communicate and socialize and be part of life on this planet, not narrow it down to a few words on a page or a few letters in a text.
Post #7 says that he has access to his children's conversations. Is that because they text everything and never call to TALK to a person? :) I guess they could quickly delete anything they don't want you to see, but because we don't Talk anymore, we're really missing out on some interpersonal skills and relationships. I don't think cell phones changed our lives as much as texting and chatting did, though. Kids today don't know what it is like to talk on the phone and have their dad or grandpa get on the phone and say, "Who is this and why are you talking to my daughter?" Talk about embarrassing. Parents used to be so upset that they'd miss calls because teenagers were on the phone talking it up for no apparent reason whatsoever! But then, kids eventually got different phone lines in their rooms with their own answering machines so parents could have their first phone line back! Cell phones are just an extention of that concept, I think. Good times!
In some ways, families are more disconnected, but in other ways we have a stronger connection. Many families, especially in larger countries, live far apart. Once, those families wouldn't have had much contact. Now, we can video chat, share pictures, and all sorts of other things through media. It's all usually free. I think some families are actually closer because of technology.
I have to agree with the answers provided by the previous posters. While technology has allowed to keep families connected in an instant, the connection made is superficial and lacks true emotion and contact. I have to say that, as a parent, I do love the access to my children's conversations (which comes with their agreement--not that they really have a choice) via the computer and their cellphones.
Families are more instantly connected, but we are also not necessarily together when we are physically in the same room. People can be sitting next to each other, but surfing the net or updating Facebook instead of actually talking. There seems to be an acceptability about being together but using technology instead of talking and communicating.
Gone are the days when families would sit around at night and talk, play board games, or watch the same TV show as a single unit. Now, nearly every adult and child have access to their own TV or computer, and everyone seems to go their own way--not a particularly healthy way for families to grow close together.
Sometimes we all find ourselves on our own computers at the same time. I suppose you could say this undermines the family, but we are actually communicating with each other at the same time and sharing a lot of we do and see online. It's more active and engaging than watching tv together.
One major aspect of technology that no one talks about much these days is the invention of the lightbulb. Once we were able to have light 24/7, people were able to work 24/7, and factories created shift work. I do believe that this technology was the beginning of a fundamental change in family life.
We have lifestyles that have become less and less connected to one another. Members of the family can isolate themselves from one another, listening to their iPods or playing on their video games. Even when they do things together, it is often not very interactive as they sit around and watch TV instead of talking to one another or doing other things like that.
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