Archive for Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poll: Internet, cell phones may strengthen family

October 21, 2008


On the street

Do you think cell phone and Internet use has made families more tight-knit?

I don’t think so. I think people who are always using their cell phone and the Internet are usually chatting with their friends and not their families. If anything I think it pushes them apart.

More responses

Parents and children might rush through their days in different directions, but the American family is as tight-knit as in the last generation - or more so - because of the widespread use of cell phones and the Internet, according to a new poll.

In what was described as the first detailed survey of its kind, researchers reported that family life has not been weakened by new technology. Rather, families have compensated for the stress and hurry of modern life with cell phones, e-mail and text messages.

"There had been some fears that the Internet had been taking people away from each other," said Barry Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto and one of the authors of the report, published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. "We found just the opposite."

In the poll, 60 percent of adults said that the new technologies did not affect the closeness of their family, while 25 percent said cell phones and online communication made their families closer and 11 percent said that the technology had a negative effect.

Wellman said families appreciated the innovations because "they know what each other is doing during the day."

The findings were based on a nationally representative poll of 2,252 people, which explored technology use and profiled a group of 482 adults who were married or living together with minor children.

Cell phones and Internet use were widespread in two-parent households, regardless of education, income, employment, race and ethnicity, with 94 percent saying at least one adult used the Internet and 84 percent saying children did.

This marks a large change in short order. Only since the start of the decade has a majority of Americans been Internet and cell phone users, researchers said.

Where technology has changed family life, those polled said it was for the good. Forty-seven percent of adults said cell phones and the Internet had improved the quality of family communication. Another 47 percent said there was no effect, and 2 percent said there had been a decrease in quality.

The ease of being in touch has created a phenomenon called "love taps," in which couples exchange hellos with a regularity that did not exist 10 years ago.


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