Family routines get rewired

In Facebook, mobile devices, mobile marketing, social issues and new media, Uncategorized on September 15, 2009 by gingercatmom

There’s no doubt that technology has changed the ways families interact today. As I write this, three of my family members are working on laptops in three different rooms–one in front of a TV as well. My Blackberry sits next to my laptop and I’m eagerly awaiting a return text message from my college student son. This is just a typical night for us–and millions of other Americans.

The New York Times described how household routines have been shaken up by the rapid integration of new technology. We used to awake to alarm clocks–now we wake to the alarm on our I-Pod or cellphone. We greet the day with technology and it’s often the last thing we encounter at night. Kids aren’t just distracted by morning TV shows. They’re checking their Facebook page, playing a video game or texting their friends. There are a million new reasons to be late for school.

Dont miss the bus! Have mom send you a text.

Don't miss the bus! Have mom send you a text.

Adults are just as eager to get up and get online. The workday never ends when we’re connected 24/7 via mobile devices and our wireless laptops. We try to get an hour of work in before we’ve even stepped in the shower. We steal a look at our email on the way to the coffee pot. For many of us, the days of reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee seem a nostalgic thing of the past.

The New York Times article references an Arbor Networks study that finds that American Web traffic peaks at 11 p.m., gradually declines from midnight to 6 a.m. and then spikes up again at 7 a.m. At least we can rejoice in the fact that most of us get a little rest before we log on to another wired day.

So what does this mean to the American family?  Making a conscious effort to find balance and to stay connected through real, live face-to-face family contact is more difficult than ever before. Our daily rituals may be changing, but we just might find that these changes enrich our lives in ways we just can’t fully understand yet. And what’s “new” today is the next generation’s “old-fashioned”.


4 Responses to “Family routines get rewired”

  1. It is always funny to me how excited I get about receiving mail these days. At work, we are constantly recommending e-mail campaigns, social media, etc. However, those ways of communicating have become so crowded that the simple act of retrieving something especially for you delivered to your home has a nostalgic and exciting feel to it. Do you suppose that we may experience similar feelings for face-to-face contact in the future?

  2. With cell phones today, it’s great to be able to track our children, but how much is too much? My 13-year old stepdaughter was at our house this weekend. Unfortunately, it’s been too long since she’s visited because my school work interferes with her ‘online’ time. I’m amazed that she can even hold a coherent conversation. She is on her phone constantly….and I mean, ALL the time. She will sit at the computer with four instant messages boxes open, her cell phone in her hand, while playing with the two younger children. She sits at the dinner table with her cell phone, texting, and is still able to participate in the table-talk.

    When my two year old asks for a cell phone at the age of eight because ‘all of her friends have one’, how will I be able to tell her no? (oh, believe me, I will)!

    I fear that children of tomorrow will not know what it is like to hold a book, while snuggling on the couch, on a rainy Saturday afternoon. What about spelling and writing papers? Computers do spelling and grammar checks…..will they even know how to write a complete sentence?

    I love technology. It has brought us so many great things. But, you’re right, it’s all about balance!

    • The texting behavior of teenagers is pretty amazing–and these kids are becoming multitaskers at a very early age. I’ve found that if I want to reach my kids, this is the most effective way to get a quick response. My 50-something aged husband refuses to text and was a late adopter of cell phone technology. There are definite generational differences in mobile device use! It can be a frustrating barrier to communication.

  3. I like the post.

    I think it’s interesting the Internet consumption peaks at 11pm as the general population settles before bed. As a media buyer of traditional media like TV, I would need to reflect on if buyer late night programming is a good idea.

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