Will Living in a Hyperconnected Society Bring Families Closer Together?

May 7, 2010 at 11:47 pm Leave a comment

I attended the Social Media Futures Academy on April 30th, a part of the FutureWeb 2010 Conference geared toward highschoolers in Raleigh, N.C. I had the opportunity to sit in on a session about the hyperconnected family, given by one of my professors at Elon.

Ken’s daughter and wife currently live in Boston, while he lives down here in North Carolina. They all stay in touch through visits every couple of weeks, but more so, virtually. They share meals over Skype, help with homework over Skype, and meet up in Second Life.

Ken says that people always assume that because they are physically far away from one another, their relationship is difficult. But Ken would argue otherwise and go so far as to say that their relationship may even be better than those people living in the same house. I agree, but I think being hyperconnected is making all families closer, at least those who use the technology.

When I was young in the nineties, cell phones were just getting big. I wouldn’t have dreamed of having a cell phone at age 10 or even age 12. If I was at school and wanted to get in touch with my parents, I would have to go to the office and ask to use the phone or ask a teacher. If my mom dropped me off at the mall with friends, I wouldn’t even have that!

Today, children of all ages have cell phones and though they may not be allowed to use them during school, they have them in case they need to get in touch with family…or just talk with friends. And today’s phones are capable of more than we even imagined back then. If kids see something funny they want to share with someone, they’ll snap a picture and send, or send a short text message, and parents can reply back immediately. Instead of only communicating in the morning before school, and then in the evening, there’s the option for continuous communication.

Also, parents can keep track of their kids at all times through GPS-enabled devices. What do you do when the school calls and tells you they haven’t seen Jimmy in the last two days, even though you know you dropped him off? You go online (if you have that service enabled) or monitor his phone through yours. You figure out exactly where he is, show up much to his surprise and chagrin, and drag him away by the ear.

I think social media tools are also bringing families closer as well. When parents friend their children on Facebook, they might see another side of them and learn things about them that they had no idea of. Also, when parents friend their children, they are able to talk in a different way through the website, not so much as parent to child, but friend to friend.

So yes, I say that living in a hyperconnected society will continue to bring families closer together? I can only assume as we spend more and more of our time connected to the Internet and virtual world, that these relationships will continue to deepen, because this allows for continuous communication and physical distance is not an obstacle to be overcome.

What do you think?

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Entry filed under: COM 580- Contemporary Media Issues.

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