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Technology Isn't Causing Collapse Of Family Life
      Author:Ben Rooney     Source: http://cn.wsj.com     Release Time:7/22/2011 9:55:06 AM     View Times:6499
A report by the University of Cambridge has shown that while families are concerned about the impact that technology is having on their lives, most have effective strategies for dealing with it.

Despite many claims that home life was being disrupted by video games, the pernicious effects of social media, or excessive texting by obsessed teenagers, overall the report painted a broadly positive picture of family life managing technology well. In three of the four countries examined (Australia, U.K. and U.S.) more than half of respondents still used face-to-face communication (also known as 'talking to each other') as the primary way of communicating. Only in China did that figure fall to below 50%.

The negative impacts of technology surrounded the perceived loss of family time and activities. This was reported by about one in three families on average. The report suggested that those who had negative feelings towards technology were also likely to feel less satisfied with life in general.

The negative effects, the authors said, could be mitigated by some simple rules, such as parents imposing limits on the use of technology by their children (also known as 'parenting').

At a London event to launch the report's findings last week, David Good, a social psychologist at Cambridge University said that while 'all new technologies tend to cause moral panic' there were qualitative differences with previous eras.

'One is the extent is that social media leaves a permanent record. You can go back and search for details of an exchange you had months ago. In a fundamental way it makes your past engagements auditable. That brings lots of extra challenges.'

Marie-Jose Montpetit, a research scientist at MIT, suggests that speed is also a key difference.

'It took a long time to go from smoke signals to the printed work. It took less time to go to the telephone. Facebook has achieved its position in five years. It is the pace that has changed,' she says.

'One thing that is different. People have always had moral panics. What has changed is that the panic is every six months. If you are not educated enough and you don't have an attitude towards technology, the panic cycle gets so close that people are overwhelmed by it,' Ms. Montpetit says.

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