Personal electronic devices are very popular and have both a practical and social value, but fall far short of carrying a similar value to family.
I think that electronic devices have not been around long enough for us to get tired of them. That's one consideration. Another consideration is the commercial value of these devices. We like to buy these things because, well, because we can. Basically that is the love affair. Tablets are new and moderately useful and appeal to our fascination with "the new" and with "being up" on trends.
In the near future, we should see a more casual relationship develop between people and their personal devices, even as the devices become more useful.
I too would disagree that we value any electronic device more than our families. We may use them more to communicate than face to face conversation, but certainly in my experience I use such technologies to stay in touch with my family more than I would be able to without them. Most of my family live overseas, so I embrace whatever technology I can to keep myself as close as possible to them.
I can not agree that everyone gives more value to cellphones and electronic tablets than they do to their families. Essentially, my daughter would not have a cellphone if I did not pay for it. So, essentially, she values the importance of the dollar over that of the electronic device.
Apart from that, I have to say that I, personally, do not value anything above my family. Knowing the people who I surround myself with, many of the people I know feel the same way--nothing is more important than family.
I rarely use my cellphone, and I certainly don't spend hours daily with it as many people do today. I do believe it contributes to a lessening of family interaction: I've seen it create a barrier with my wife and her daughter, who prefers to retreat to her bedroom and spend the rest of the night texting and messaging instead of engaging in family conversation. I also find the written word (text, email, messaging, Facebooking) less social than actually speaking one-to-one on the phone--something that today's young people seem to ignore these days.
I think it is just easy to take family for granted, and get lost in your hobbies and work. People see family as a constant, and hobbies, friends, or work as things that need to be cared for and cultivated more. I don't agree with that, but I do see it happen.
I don't agree that we give more value to cellphones or Ipods than to families. It may appear that some individuals spend more time and attention to communicating with persons on various devices than in person, but I don't think that is the same as valuing one more than the other. At any rate, I certainly hope this is not the case!
I think it depends on what you mean by "value". It certainly seems to be that in many families technology is replacing human interaction and that more time is given to technology to spending family time. However I still think people value their families over their possessions. As is often true, what we feel and how we behave don't always match. I think many families don't realize what they are losing by not spending more genuine time together.
I think this notion is related to our tendency to imagine that society is breaking down around us, which stems, I think, from an imagined past where everything was simpler, people were less materialistic, everyone could leave their doors unlocked at night, and so on. Before cell phones, there were other things that kept families from being as close as they might have otherwise been--the TV, as has been pointed out, is a great example. Mobile communications and other technologies are changing the way we live our lives, but it does not follow that they are causing people to prioritize them over family, just that family relations are adjusting to new social realities, just as they always have.
I would like to see some proof that we actually do this. It is all very well to claim that we do, but where is the evidence? I think that we tend to overestimate how much we are really valuing our technology. I think someone could have made the same claim about TVs or cars in other periods in our history. I don't really see anything that would convince me that people value their material possessions above their families.