Smartphones bring families together? Doubtful

Summary:A recent survey on American women suggested that mobile devices bring families closer together. You missed the point.

You're perched on your bed, absorbed in Facebook, wasting time looking at the latest 'meme' image floating around the web, or researching for a latest post.

Suddenly, a shriek powerful enough to shatter the delicate bones in your ears reverberates from downstairs. You are being called again to answer the phone. Without realizing it, you've ignored the last four summons.

Shifting from one technological device to the next, you suffer later for then missing the call for dinner.

Tablets and smartphones, in a latest survey, were concluded to bring families closer. Not glue children to the latest app they've downloaded, or keep parents in a constant state of checking their work email while helping the kids out with their homework.

A recent survey conducted by CTIA -- the Wireless Association -- collated data on over 1000 U.S women and how they use wireless devices.

85% said that mobile devices help families feel closer, and 45% said that it helps families spend more time together, through schedule organisation.

Robert Mesirow, vice president of CTIA, said in a statement:"It’s undeniable that wireless devices have changed the way we live and work. As our survey has proven, mobile technology is also changing the way families interact and improving the quality of time they’re spending with each other."

Quality of time? I can't say I agree. If anything, mobile devices simply add yet another distraction that takes away interaction in the present with those around you. Is it quality time when you are pulled away from a game with your child to take a work call, or spend time checking Facebook instead of communicating with your partner?

Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets have caused a shift in how we live and work, and that is almost undeniable. Children use iPads in schools, smartphones give us immediate access to data and contacts, work can reach us at any hour.

It no doubt has its uses, and in points of safety and emergencies I agree. Knowing you can contact your loved ones instantly if something goes wrong can be an emotional safety net for family members.

But the survey missed the point.

There's a difference between having information concerning the activities and status of someone, and having quality communication with them.

I'd suggest that mobile devices make families feel more informed about their families, and make scheduling time shared together easier based on this information. However, 'closer', to me, is the wrong phrase to use. 'Closer' suggests that it improves individual relationships, and with Facebook being mentioned in many a recent divorce, can the two sides truly correlate?

It may make families feel closer, but perhaps it has affected the way they communicate on the whole. Knowing things about people around you may make you feel more connected with them, but if the trade-off is a distracting environment and less quality time spent with them physically present, what one believes to be true may not be the case.

(Image Source: Andrew Malone/Flickr)

Related:

Topics: Smartphones, Hardware, Mobility

About

Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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