Is the Internet Destroying Your Family?

According to a report (via AP) on a new survey from the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California:

28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with members of their households. That’s nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006 . . .

[W]hen the center began its annual surveys on Americans and the Internet, only 11 percent of respondents said that family members under 18 were spending too much time online. By 2008, that grew to 28 percent.

In the first half of the decade, people reported spending an average of 26 hours per month with their families. By 2008, however, that shared time had dropped by more than 30 percent, to about 18 hours.

It’s interesting that (in the reporting on the report) TV is now a medium viewed as family friendly compared to the Internet, which is impliedly isolating and destructive of the family.

While there’s all kinds of nasty stuff online that kids can find, I’d rather have my daughter engaged in some semi-constructive Internet site than passively sitting absorbing marketing messages from advertisers on commercial TV.

Has the Internet impacted your life and family in a negative way or positively?


5 Responses to “Is the Internet Destroying Your Family?”

  1. David Mihm Says:

    Greg, not only would I totally disagree with the idea that the internet is destructive of family, but I would take the opposite viewpoint–that it enhances it.

    The fact that my parents are online more gives us many more chances to communicate (I bet we average at least an email a day) and more common topics to talk about. Both of my aunts email me links and community events to look at all the time. I’ve taught a couple of my cousins how to use Twitter. My uncle, a total Luddite, and I texted via his Blackberry on a fairly regular basis during last year’s election. I’d say technology, and the internet, has been a great boon to more family interaction, not to mention the real-world friends I have met via online relationships.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    I would tend toward your POV, though say it’s something of a mixed blessing.

  3. Scott Thompson Says:

    My cousin never goes online on Sundays. This ensures that she is with family and doing other things at least one day per week. I agree with David that the Internet can enhance family life it can also hurt it, but so can many other things. Moderation is the key. Anything can be abused to the point where they hurt personal relationships – even books and education.

  4. MiriamEllis Says:

    Obviously, being a web designer, the Internet puts the tortillas on my family’s table. That being said, my husband and I are glad to shut off the computers at the end of the work day and look into one another’s non-electronic eyes.

    I’ve done some research and writing in the past on this subject, and my overall conclusion is that children’s Internet use should be 100% supervised by parents, in which case, using the Internet is a joint, family activity.

    Of interest on this topic: look at the original Atari 2600 ads on YouTube. They depict families (including Grandma) playing video games together. The Atari 2600 came into being in the world of family board games, and doubtless the inventors envisioned whole families working together to find the chalice or hunt the wumpus (that was a TI game, though). It quickly became apparent that video games were not really a family pursuit and they did isolate kids into a world of their own, pursuing eye-hand realities. Of course, books do this, too.

    The Internet can be really educational for children, and has special merit for homeschooled or chronically ill children, but I stick firm by my conclusion that children should not use the web without absolute supervision.

  5. Greg Sterling Says:

    Agree Miriam. I don’t stand over my daughters but check at periodic and random intervals. We have no computers in their bedrooms; they computer they access is in a common room.

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