I grew up in a time when the home telephone was one of the big technologies of the day. I can remember my older sister being on the phone for hours talking to her friends. So that people could call our house without getting the busy signal, my parents actually had to set the timer on the stove to limit the number of minutes she spent with the technology. At that time in history, there were concerns that youth had nothing in common with their parents and were not communicating with them.
Sprint ahead to 2013. Do the concerns sound the same? Youth spending too much time with technology and communicating only with their peers? Not connecting with their parents?
I do admit, I side with the “cyberoptimists,” who “point to findings showing that the Internet has a positive effect on social life. Communication over the Internet tends to supplement, rather than replace, other forms of communication, and can have positive effects on building and maintaining strong and satisfying social relationships” (Pollet, Roberts, & Dunbar, 2011).
I think cell phones may have actually improved connections for many parents and their children. Relatives and friends I know connect with their teenage children several times a day to share a funny moment, send a photo, or just say I love you. As Brown states, “The internet can actually strengthen family ties because it provides a continuously connected presence.”
Of course, there has to be a strong parent child relationship to begin with. But if teenage children feel they can connect with their parents anytime, anywhere, with a text or a photo, how can this be a bad thing?
Brown, A. (2011). Relationships, community, and identity in the new virtual society. The Futurist, 45(2), 29-34. Retrieved from: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/58079646/relationships-community-identity-new-virtual-society
Pollet, T. V., Roberts, S. G. B., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2011). Use of social network sites and instant messaging does not lead to increased offline social network size, or to emotionally closer relationships with offline network members. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(4), 253-258. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0161