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The Effect of the Information Age on Family Values

Over half of younger respondents (between the ages of 18 and 34) said technology isn’t just helpful, but necessary to stay in touch with family •Twenty-five percent of respondents with children said that instant messaging–a mode of communication many think is restricted to the MySpace generation–helped them keep in touch with their kids “The study surveyed more than 4,500 families with Internet access, covering a total of 16 countries in the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.

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Participants were asked questions on topics ranging from time spent together as a family to the number of gadgets owned by the household. ” (McCarthy, 2006) Today’s family is not the Cleavers of the 1950s or the futuristic Jetsons. Today’s men cook, women work, and kids often are very tech-savvy. However, Jupiter Research analyst Emily Reilly says, “Whether or not technology has created a more nuclear family, or a family with more traditional values, is probably almost impossible to determine without a deep, long-term ethnographic study. ” The “Why Me” Generation has moved on and people are adjusting their lifestyles for many reasons, chief among them their insatiable hunger for community, connection, and a higher purpose in life.

People are now looking for basic American values that seem to be missing from the day-to-day experiences of life — among them: empathy and optimism; strength and decisiveness; authenticity, faith, and a sense of community, belonging, and purpose. Some people would call these traits, but that term is too small for such an important concept. Hair color is a trait. Authenticity and community are values. The meaning of life changed in America, or at least the meanings of money and success changed. The first years of the twenty-first century saw a rise in the number of people who said cash could do more than bring them pleasure; it could help them contribute to society, leave something to their heirs, or otherwise help their children. The view of money as the root of evil is changed.

People realize that it is just a means to a way—A way to provide for yourself and your family. In the past, physical proximity and family were needed hand-in-hand to have value. The family unit after a certain time was expected to be all tucked away in their cozy individual homes. A family was mom, dad, and 2. 5 kids. Parents were expected to help their children with their homework. Mom was expected to have dinner on the table. Everyone was expected to observe “family time” usually in front of the Television. A beautiful picture painted by Norman Rockwell and the television show “Leave It to Beaver” showed that 70% of the day was spent with your family.

To this day, people still bring this image to mind when one speaks of “Family values”. This is no longer true. Normal present day families are lucky if the see each other 20% of the day. The Internet does the children’s homework, or at the bare minimum helps. Dinner is sometimes held at home but more often then not it is some kind of take out or delivery. This is not to say the family bond has weakened this only states that it has changed. With the integration of the “digital” or “wireless” age families have drawn closer even if not in a physical sense. With the advent of cellular phones, instant messaging, and email, the family unit may be further apart yet closer then ever.

While “traditional family values” as shown above are not strictly adhered to a newer set of family values that allows a greater communication between family members pulls them into a tight cohesive family unit. With the number of single parent families rising, mom/dad cannot always be there. “But independent thinkers around the country are beginning to alter the nature of the family values debate. They believe that family issues and family policy have been defined too narrowly for too long. They see a much broader array of actions–by government and business as well as by individuals–that affect families and their problems. These factors include the role economic policies play, subtly or overtly, in influencing family composition; the availability of jobs and job training; the supply of suitable men; and numerous others. (Marano, 1997) In Aaron Ostrovsky article for The University of Washington Student Newspaper called “Family values aren’t fixed”; he stated “Instead of both families staying at home and, say, working on the farm, or both having to go off to work in a factory, one became the bread winner, one stayed home with the kids and, voila, you have the nuclear family. The problem is that in these post-modern times, the economy is changing drastically and challenging people’s beliefs about what constitutes a family. People panic when their firmly-held notions of family structure are challenged by a changing world. ” From a scientist’s point of view, the breakdown of the family is simply a natural metamorphosis due to the passing of time. There is no drain silently sucking away America’s morality. A dynamic people is simply responding to a changing economic environment.

Family values exist, but we have to remember they can’t stay static when society and the shape of our families are changing drastically. Today, we are living in a chaotic transition period to a new age defined by global competition, rampant change, faster flow of information and communication, increasing business complexity, and pervasive globalization. Simultaneous changes in technology, economics, culture, politics, demographics, the environment, and education are creating greater connectivity among countries, communities, families, and individuals. “All of this makes the transition to adulthood a new, transformed, and “emergent” process at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

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