Sunday, November 8, 2009

Networks and Families Connect

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project report, Barry Wellman, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto, and an co-author of this report, people polled said that they are actually staying more connected using technology, and that new technology did not affect their families' closeness.

Wellman said that, "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. Of the 25 percent of the people who were surveyed, they said cellphones and online communication made their families closer and only 11 percent said that the technology had a negative effect."

In my opinion, families like this new technology because they know what each other is doing at all hours of the day, and it probably does not really make a difference if they meet face-to-face because this still is keeping them connected. When families these days are torn apart by the stress of having two parents who work, this type of technology enables them to keep tabs on each other and their children. Parents and children might rush through their days in different directions, but the American family is as tight-knit as in the last generation because of the widespread use of cellphones and the Internet. Most importantly, where technology has changed family life, those polled said it was for the good. For instance, Forty-seven percent of adults said cellphones and the Internet had improved the quality of family communication. Therefore, it makes sense to say that if you’re connected, you’re not isolated.

Washington Report

This study also confirmed that the Internet and mobile phones are not linked to social isolation. In fact, online activities such as e-mail, blogging and frequenting Internet hangouts can even lead to larger, more diverse social networks. The study argued against earlier research in the decade, which suggested that people’s growing embrace of technology has come at the expense of close human connection.

According to the Herald Net:

Although, the 2008 survey of 2,512 adults did find that Americans’ core discussion networks — that group of people you count on being able to confide in, has become smaller in the past two decades of about two people instead of three. They have also become less diverse because they contain fewer friends and more family members. This trend; however, was not linked to the use technology because it is not the Internet’s intention to replace your friends or stop you from going out in public; it's intended to give you a variety of ways to get you more involved and become more social if this is what you are interested in doing.

As I see it, adults of all ages view the Internet as an important tool for maintaining connections with family members, but young people are more likely to go online in order to keep in touch with existing friends and to also make new contacts.

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