Family Time

Do you find it difficult to fall asleep on Sunday night? I do, and then the next thing I find myself looking up French twist type beehive hairstyles and it’s 12.30 am and I’m a bit tired in the morning and I find myself thinking about technology and what not.

Family Portrait - Montreal 1963

Last night on the news, there was a feature about how iPhones, tablets, computers and so such are eroding family life. Funnily enough, I’d been having a little think about it myself just that afternoon. I was slaving over a huge pile of ironing while watching Band of Horses on my iPad. They were at the Camden Roundhouse as part of the iTunes festival sometime last week and I couldn’t help thinking that if you’d been there last week, you must have been dying for Jack White to come on stage. Anyway, I came out the kitchen and the bubba was watching Little Bear on my computer and the Frog was faffing about on his tablet. So is technology eroding family life? And could you live without technology?

A Date with Your Family

Admittedly, I don’t have teenagers, but when I do spend some time in their company they do seem to be in some way physically attached to their mobile phones. In some ways I’m a little jealous at the speed they can update their Facebook status without making the inordinate amount of spelling mistakes I seem to make. But is it eroding my family life? I don’t think so. When I got my iPhone I was banned from having it anywhere near me at dinner time. But likewise, I turn off Stade 2 (a sports magazine programme) off on Sunday evenings when we’re having dinner. In some ways I think that all this onslaught of new technology means is that we need to have some rules, like I can’t have the phone at dinner time and the Frog can’t have the TV. And the Bubba is beginning to understand that when she’s had tablet time, she can’t switch to another device.  As for teenagers, there are some really scary things they could be doing out there in the big scary world, so if the worst thing they do is sneak in extra FB time, I reckon we’re getting off lightly.

Romanian Family

And then there’s the fact that I love all my gadgets. If push came to shove and I absolutely had to choose only one thing it would be my computer. I write on it, e mail, blog, mess about with my photos. I just love it. But as I don’t have to choose I also love my phone. Probably one of the most important things I love about my phone is the google maps compass function. Never again do I have to march purposefully down an unknown road only to discover halfway down that I’m going the wrong way. Then next comes Dropbox which means I can do a read through of crit pages on the move without having to have a computer with me. The iPad is just fantastic because when going on holiday I can stick books on it, have my current WIP on it, plus keep the three year old entertained in restaurants with unbelievably slow service. She’s now pretty good at recognising letters, not that I’m showing off or anything.

But to look at the other side of the argument, I think there is the possibility out there to spend so much time connected that you don’t actually spend time with the people around you. I do recognise that people get addicted to stuff (Angry Birds for instance), but really is the technology eroding your family life, or should the real question be: are you letting technology erode your family life?

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2 responses to “Family Time

  1. From this side of the family life fence – that is – with one quarter of our cosy hub merrily munching his way through the gastronomic palette of the Land of the Rising Sun (or is it Setting?) , I’d say that technology not only prolongs the life of the average family, but also allows the members left in the nest to enjoy the fruits of those that have already flown; in our case, for example – having waved a fond farewell to the quarter of us that needed to see the world, we get home, expecting to feel lost and bereft – only to share – visually – every meal that is placed before our absent but expanding son. Within a few days of his departure we have become, through technology, experts in food we have never tasted, but rival Mount Fiji in size and explosive potential. We know, daily, that not only is he safe, but that he is having to buy new shirts – colourful and plentiful. We have watched him praying in a Buddhist temple, heard him introduce the family grandma in Japanese via Jap Skype, watched the family Fuji-size dog sniff our son’s groin and then lick us clean off the screen; we have read strange and lively cryptic messages from every flamenco loving Japanese girl in Tokyo. (ROR!) Oh – I’d say technology gives us more family time than ever before – just different – way way different!

    • Wow, I would love to visit Japan. And yes, I agree with you. A lot of this tech has enabled me to start getting to know far flung members of my extended family, that I wouldn’t otherwise have got to know. And it’s also very lovely to get messages from you 🙂

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