Families divided over impact of technology on relationships

Typical family Distracted at the dinner table, as each member is on a device

SOME families and residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have complained of how technology was eroding family bonds and has become and a major factor in the loss of family values.

In several interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Sunday, parents who responded admitted that it was a struggle to keep up with group family activities without every member of the family distracted by their phones and other digital devices as family members remained engaged in social media, digital games or other electronic activities.

Other parents decried the decreasing rate at which children were engaged in outdoor or physical recreational activities.

A mother of three toddlers, Mrs Bamidele Adejugbagbe, said, “I cannot pretend that it is not an issue. Technology has done some harm to the family unit. These days, it is hard to get everyone to concentrate on the same thing at the same time.

“While you are talking, someone is on the phone or playing a video game. It’s like we are all busy having fun but as individuals, and not as a group.”

For Mr Pius Oyubu, the main issue is that technology has created a false sense of connection for families while actively killing the bond.

He said, “these days, families have WhatsApp groups and chat rooms. They follow each other on social media and that is most times where it ends.

“These people might not talk as much in real life but they feel that the communication vacuum has been bridged by whatever snatches of WhatsApp group conversation they share.”

Is social media bringing people close or keeping them apart?

A 28-year-old banker, Emmanuel Akindele, admitted that he rarely feels the need to see his family physically as they communicate regularly online.

He and some other respondents, professionals like him, told NAN that they subconsciously found themselves toying with their phones at family functions and distracted most of the time.

He said, “I hear that in the days of our parents, people made it a point of duty to sit in the evenings and have conversations, share stories and teach life lessons.

“Now, I can’t remember the last time I had a lengthy conversation with my parents face to face.

“Things are just dropped in the family group chat and there is this sense that you can always call the person so there is no need to have physical conversations.

“With this, coupled with the fact that we are always pressing our phones, even when there is no need or any reason to, are signs that we are losing family values.”

Those who disagree with Akindele noted that while technology might have hastened the process, pressure of the society were responsible for the gradual loss in family bond.

Miss Onyinye Okoye said, “I don’t really think its all about the abuse or use of digital devices. For example, these days things have changed drastically in many ways. Criminal tendencies have forced parents to monitor their children closely and the suspicion and fear has led many parents to stop their children from playing outside. 

“Also, the economic downturn in the country has also led people to work harder than before, thereby spending more time away from their families in order to make ends meet.

“These things have a way of reducing the familiarity and bond as families have begun to spend less time together.”

Julius Omokhodion said that technology has actually helped to keep the family bond left, intact, while he noted that the question is how it has been applied.

According to him, the world is too fast-paced for families to spend the amount of time they used to spend together.

“In such a situation, technology has helped families connect and remain in touch in situation where they would not have been able to. Lack of physical contact has been helped by video calls for example,” he said.


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