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Internet Helps Families Stay More in Touch

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Much has been said about how anti-social the Internet and mobile phones are. The truth is however, according to new research, communication technology is bringing people closer together. A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found family members were keeping in regular contact today more than ever before. And this is all down to e-mail, chat, our cellphones and SMS messaging. It makes sense. Years ago, it took a long time to write a letter, then find an envelope and go to the post office to buy a stamp and post it. Today we write mails while we wait for our change in the convenience store and they’re sent in an instant. Having free Internet telephone calls also helps us to stay in touch more often and for longer. Everyone’s at it, from five-year-olds to tech-savvy grandparents.

According to the Pew survey, technology has a very positive effect on communication within families. Researchers asked 2,252 adults whether new technologies had increased the quality of communication with their family. Fifty-three percent said it increased communication with family members they did not live with, two per cent said technology decreased this. Numbers were similar for those living in the same house as their family. The project director Lee Rainey said: "There's a new kind of connectedness being built inside of families with these technologies”. Survey co-author Barry Wellman agreed: "It used to be [that] husbands went off to work, wives went off to a different job or else stayed home…and the kids went off to school…and not until 5:30, 6 o'clock did they ever connect," he said.

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