Innovation

Does technology reinforce traditional family values?

A survey was recently conducted by Yahoo and ad agency OMD to determine if people who own and use computers, cell phones, and other tech gadgets still feel that spending time with their family is important. See the news story: "Study: Tech unites, not divides 'Family 2.0'."

So who was surveyed and what were the findings? "The study surveyed more than 4,500 families with Internet access, covering a total of 16 countries in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Participants were asked questions on topics ranging from time spent together as a family to the number of gadgets owned by the household. The conclusion was simple: The information age has led to resurgence in focus on the importance of the nuclear family."

Here are some of the nitty-gritty details of the survey:

  • Seventy-three percent of "wired" families with children responded that they felt daily family dinners were important
  • Eight out of 10 adult respondents (including those who were unmarried and/or did not have children) felt that spending time with their families was enjoyable
  • Seventy percent of respondents said that technology helps them stay in touch with family
  • Over half of younger respondents (between the ages of 18 and 34) said technology isn't just helpful, but necessary to stay in touch with family
  • Twenty-five percent of respondents with children said that instant messaging—a mode of communication many think is restricted to the MySpace generation—helped them keep in touch with their kids

However, Jupiter Research analyst Emily Reilly says, "Whether or not technology has created a more nuclear family, or a family with more traditional values, is probably almost impossible to determine without a deep, long-term ethnographic study."

"Traditional family values" is a very hard thing to define, because it means different things depending on different families' traditions. I agree that families with access to the Internet and mobile technology have a greater opportunity to stay in closer contact with their family and to make their family ties tighter - that is, if they choose to do so. My mother and sister recently purchased cell phones, and since we're on the same network, we've talked more on the phone in the past few weeks than ever before. My entire family also owns webcams, and so we're able to talk and see one another even though we live in different states. Of course, some people could argue that technology has the ability to drive families apart. What's your take on this topic?

 

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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