Keeping an Analog Family in a Digital World

The New York Times article “Quality Time, Redefined” asks if family intimacy is eroding in the digital age. It presents a household huddled in one room, more engaged with their iPads, Wii and smart-phones then with each other. It recalls the Pixar film Wall-E, wherein technological conveniences lead future humans to become helpless, overgrown babies.

But the article does not blame technology for damaging the family. It instead shows how we might maintain happy family lives without sacrificing our iPhones or Netflix accounts.

Television and even books were once considered harbingers of doom for domesticity. People have always become wrapped up in the latest technological breakthroughs. If we want to keep family time safe, these simple techniques may help:

  • Wireless Internet allows the freedom to download online content from anywhere. Try setting up a space where all the family’s online activities can take place together in comfort. You don’t always need to talk to be together. Simply enjoy each other’s company.
  • Parents can follow their kids’ Tweets or Facebook posts without invading their privacy. Simply clicking “Like” on an intelligent comment is a noticeable gesture.
  • To “manage” your family’s online time, establish a scheduled period when all screens are off. Take up a hobby or sport, preferably one your family can shares an interest in.
  • Nothing beats having your family sit together and communicate. Schedule a time every week when the family can relax and talk about anything. (Dinnertime, for example.) Protect this time from all intrusions.
  • We live in a 24-hour online world and there’s no turning back. Terms such as “social networks,” “streaming” and “on-demand” are now part of our everyday speech. But “family” has always been part of our language. Through realistic moderation and planning, it’s quite possible to enjoy a digital life and have a close and happy family.

What do you think?

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