Tech & the ties that bind: Pew study

American families are into their digital communications, and this is "enabling new forms of family connectedness," a new nationwide survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found. The study found that "89% of married-with-children households own multiple cellphones" (47% three or more), and 57% of the 7-to-17-year-olds in those households have their own cellphones; 58% of those households have two-or more computers (63% of them connected via home network); and in 76% of those households, both spouses use the Net, in 84% of them youth 7-17 use the Net, and in 65% of those households just about everybody's online. Two-thirds of the US's 2-parent households with children have broadband Internet access. It's interesting to see what the respondents themselves say about the impact this has on family ties. When the parents were asked if this use of cellphones and the Net has brought their family closer than when they were growing up, 60% there wasn't much difference (maybe the increase in digital communications compensates for a proportionate increase in everybody's busyness?), 25% said closer, 11% not as close, and 4% didn't know or didn't want to answer. In its coverage, the Washington Post cites researchers as saying "the heaviest technology users are also people with the heaviest work schedules." USATODAY tells of a family in New York that uses Twitter to keep in high-frequency touch. Here too are Information Week and about 5 dozen other reports on the study.

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