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The Internet Cuts Into Family Time

By Sarah Klein

More families than ever before have home computers with Internet connections. With this added Internet use, it appears that family socializing is slowly eroding. In 2006, eleven percent of newly connected families reported spending less time with family members. Today that number has jumped to 28 percent, according to research from the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California.

During the three year study, researchers found that family time had decreased more than 30 percent, from around 26 hours per month a few years ago to just under 18 hours per month in 2008. The number of interviewees who reported feeling ignored by their Internet-using family members grew by 40 percent.

Almost half of the women surveyed reported feeling ignored, with 39.1 percent of men feeling the same way. Researchers speculate that the higher percentage for women may reflect the greater emphasis that they place on relationships, a better balance in their home computer use, plus the persistent call of family and household responsibilities.

One reason for the increase in computer time and the consequent decrease in family time is the growing importance of social networks, researchers said. As people spend more time cultivating relationships online, face-to-face time naturally decreases.

The Center has also been tracking steadily rising misgivings about the amount of time kids and teens spend online. In 2000, when its surveys began, just 11 percent of respondents said family members under eighteen were spending too much time online, a concern that had grown to 28 percent by 2008.

Michael Gilbert, senior fellow at the Center for the Digital Future, warns that the Internet may be more of a threat to family time than previous technological innovations. American families have always been resilient, Gilbert pointed out in a press release, easily absorbing new technologies from the telephone to television and turning them to their advantage. “But the Internet delivers an engrossing interactive universe into our homes and demands much greater individual commitment.”

 “The family is our social foundation, society’s basic building block. We need to guard its health in what otherwise seems to be a boundless digital future.”

Comment by Tears, posted 7/20/2009, 3:19 PM:

It is really right! Spending too much time on internet surfing, playing online games and etc. can really decrease family time. I think for parents like me, we should always try to have quality time with our child. Sometimes, we didn't know that they become very hooked on games. For our child who is an avid gamer, here is an article which discussed how we can help our child on those games they play and spend quality time with them. http://www.easyezinearticles.co
Comment by Rena Hecht, posted 7/9/2009, 4:59 PM:

This article is so right. On-line time definitely takes away from in-person family time. I feel guilty right now, because I am on the Internet and my kids are upstairs playing!
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