Tech Families Embrace Traditional Values?

A new study of more than 4,500 families in the U.S. and internationally conducted by Yahoo and media communications firm OMD finds that families are using modern technology to help manage busy lives and reinforce what could be seen as "traditional" values such as shared meals and spending time with family.

The survey found that the "average" global family owns 11 technological devices (the average jumps to 12 in the United States), but that some 70 percent of global respondents found that technology helps them stay in touch with their family. Some 209 percent of parents said they use mobile phones to stay in touch with their children throughout the day, and once quarter of global parents said instant messaging has actually helped improve communication with their children.

The survey also found that families’ lives are jam-packed with activity, with the average U.S. family listed more than 43 hours of daily activities (across all family members), including time spent sleeping, eating, commuting, and working, as well as time spend with email, messaging, using media players, and watching TV.

As an information source, the Internet has taken over as the top choice as a source of news and information on travel, jobs, cars, and finance, and two thirds of U.S. families say they use the Internet to research products, and 64 percent say they use an Internet search engine every day. Between 60 and 62 percent of U.S. familiars also use the Internet to research health topics, make travel reservations, and share photographs.

More than half (56 percent) of survey respondents aged 18 to 34 said they wouldn’t be able to stay in touch with friends and family without technology; some 34 percent of the same age group said their social lives would suffer without technology, and 36 percent said technology has helped them overcome shyness.

Similarly, 56 percent of parents said the Internet has helped children with schoolwork, and 61 percent said the Internet has exposed their children to a broad range of cultures.

"The study shows that regardless of their size or composition, today’s families value time-honored traditions like dining together, and they’re using technology to help manage busy, family-centered lives," said Wenda Harris Millard, Yahoo chief sales officer, in a release. "Technology is essential to family life, not because people love gadgets, but because it helps them do what they want to do."

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