Cell phones and family harmony

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: May 23rd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Although they’re a modern convenience millions of Americans can’t do without, cell phones may have a wrong number when it comes to family harmony. While the ability to reach and be reached anytime, anywhere, has become a must for some Americans, new research shows that ever-present portable phones and pagers are blurring the line between work life and home life, and some families are feeling the strain.

A University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee study followed more than thirteen-hundred working cell phone or pager users from 1998 to 1999 and again from 2000 to 2001. People who regularly used their cell phone or beeper more often reported negative intrusion of work life into family time and vice versa. And study participants who said that this was a problem in turn reported being less satisfied with their home life.

As expected, work calls often followed men home. And although women received some work phone calls at home, too, they were far more likely to also receive phone calls from home while at work. And these calls were not good news from the kids about a passed test or special day at school, but home-emergency issues such as the “microwave exploded.”

How can this overload be tamed? Experts recommend busy parents divide up the “on-call” duties, so that calls from home don’t always fall in mom’s lap. As for work calls at home, simply turning off the phone after a certain hour may be the sanity-saving key for family centered moms and dads.