The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?

dollonphoneUntitled by Squirrelly Mae (Flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivs Generic Licence

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

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About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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3 Responses to The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same?

  1. Sandra: I have a few friends who live across the country and the ease (cost, time, effort) of sending a text encourages me to connect with them more often than when I used to have to email or call these friends. So, I would agree that technology has helped with “maintaining strong and satisfying social relationships” across distances, for me.

  2. Hi Sandra, you make a great point about the necessity of a pre-existing relationship between parents and children. I’m sure you’re right that technology can strengthen those existing relationships when added to other forms of communication. Because digital communication lacks the emotion, nuance and context of face-to-face interaction (Pollet, et. al., 2011, p. 254), there is a concern that young people, or even parents, will try to interact solely via Internet and thereby impoverish the quality of their relationship. It’s great to have a new tool, as long as the new doesn’t displace the old.

    References:

    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.

  3. kamal punit says:

    Sandra,
    Your connection with phone usage reminds me of the time before advent of mobile phone. My parents had to travel for three kilometer to make Subscriber Trunk Call (or STD calls) and connect to my grandparents who lived in a neighboring town. These calls at that time were expensive and everyone’s hearts raised as the call charges and time spend on that call flashed constantly on a digital red colored board in front. It was a ‘cool’ Sunday experience and everyone on either end of the call felt satisfied and well connected. SNS and smart phones make this experience look primitive. You point out that, “… there has to be a strong parent child relationship to begin with.” In my view this is really the basis of any relationship and technology can easily and effectively be used as a tool for complimenting and building both offline and online relationships. The way to communicate has change but I wonder if the purpose of communication has changed as well. It is more to do with sharing but where is it leading to? Brown (2011, p. 30) points out, “Once humans begin to perceive virtual social interactions as actually having occurred, it will greatly impact individuals, relationships, communities, and society as a whole.” We are already living in times where there is a correlation between excessive social media use and teenage depression (Allen, 2012). ‘Balance’ seems to be the answer for everything negative in the virtual world but how does anyone know where to draw a line when everyone is growing and co learning at the same time?

    References:

    Brown, A. (2011). Relationships, community, and identity in the new virtual society. TheFuturist, 45(2), 29-34.

    Allen, E. (2012, July 2). How too much time on Facebook can cause depression in teenage girls. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2167734/
    How-time-Facebook-cause-depression-teenage-girls.html

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