Internet use cuts family time

By Sheryl Kay • Published: October 7th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Hanging out around a warm, cozy fireplace or even the kitchen stove is a good way to catch some family time with the kids this fall … providing everyone is not fiddling with a laptop or a phone with an Internet connection.

Scientists with the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication say family time is a declining commodity, falling by nearly a third between 2005 and 2008.

Researchers surveyed two-thousand American households, and found that in 2005 the amount of time family members spent together averaged about twenty-six hours a month.

That dropped by thirty percent in 2008 when families reported spending a mere eighteen hours a month together.

Interestingly, researchers noted that the very tools employed on the Web today to enhance a person’s social circle and increase connections to other people, such as Facebook and Twitter, are very likely part of the problem that pulls families from spending together-time.

Generally, networking on social Web sites is a lone activity that increases time spent on the computer.

What often becomes neglected are family members.

The scientists also say that half of the women who responded to the survey are aware when their children are ensnared in the Internet, compared with only about ten percent of men.

In the end, what is a parent to do?

Researchers cautioned not to reject children’s desire for computer time. Instead, parents should work to make family time part of the daily routine.

And, yes, that can include playing computer games and doing online projects together.