Are High Tech Gadgets Getting in the Way of Healthy Families?

Time Spent by Families Interacting Face-to-Face is Shrinking, with More Communication Happening Online, According to a New Study

By Gordon Tokumatsu and Julie Brayton
|  Tuesday, Mar 1, 2011  |  Updated 6:36 AM PDT
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Families are spending less and less time interacting and communicating to one another in person, according to a new study.  Now they spend most of their time communicating online.

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Families are spending less and less time interacting and communicating to one another in person, according to a new study. Now they spend most of their time communicating online.

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It's called "Family Face-Time."

"This is dinner time. This is hanging out. This is watching TV together," said Michael Gilbert, of the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

But that time is dwindling.

At the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at USC, senior researcher Michael Gilbert has been tracking "Family Face Time" trends, with some rather startling results.

In 2005 families shared, on average, about thirty hours a week together, but by 2007, that number had plunged, all the way to only seventeen hours a week.

It remains that low to this day.

What's the culprit?

"There's an awful lot of digital diversion right now," states Michael Gilbert of the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

By 2007 social networking was flourishing.

Myspace, Twitter, and the granddaddy of them all, Facebook had come into their own.

It's too early to be sure, but Gilbert suspects the "digital divide" is keeping us from conversation, shared experiences, and more.

"One way or another, I think it sort of eats away at some of our traditional relationships," states Michael Gilbert of the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

What this will mean for the family structure in the long run, or society for that matter, is a question sociologists will have to answer in the future.

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