Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tech threatens family bonding: study

A study conducted by Australian Telco, AAPT, has investigated a range of parental attitudes towards young people's use of technologies. 1000 parents were 'surveyed'.
About 40 per cent of Australian parents believe their children's fixation with technology is robbing the family of precious face-to-face time, a study has found.

The research by telco AAPT has revealed that 16 to 20-year-olds spend an average of 3.2 hours a day using technology.

This compares with just two hours of face-to-face communication spent with parents.

Almost half of the 1000 parents surveyed believed two hours was not enough time and would prefer about seven hours of face-to-face time with their children throughout the day.

Despite this, almost 80 per cent believe technology has dramatically helped their family to stay in contact.

Interesting stuff of course. I recall something about studies done on the very low average time most fathers spend interacting with their teenage children each day: less than a minute.

It seems to me that here again, in research such as this where parents are interviewed about the 'problems' associated with their children's technology use, the responses are inevitably negative, with undercurrents that appeal to fears about alienation, social fragmention, addiction, youth deviance etc while at the same time finding that people also recognise the ways communication technologies have enabled broader family interactions.

While these two different 'findings' seem to be in contradiction, they are fairly normal findings. One one hand you have a kind of moral discourse about what good or normal adolescence should be with behaviours which fall outside of this being seen as a problem. The problem is of course technology, or violent computer games or internet addiction, or some other technological deterministic view of the power of technology to influence social behaviour of itself, as if technologies have some power to take over humans, or to influence those with less moral fibre or less will power to resist the urges to give in to it.

On the other hand, the discourse of technological advanncement suggests that communication technologies have radically altered social behaviours and allowed us to do things that were not possible in the past.

I guess in the end these two different discourses are not that different.

Research like this taps into such discourses, fears, insecurities, hype and hope, and rather than offer anything new, tends to perpetuate the same kind of simplistic view of young people's use of technologies: as dupes, deviates or cyberkids.

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