How parents, children, siblings, cousins, close friends, grandparents and grandchildren use new technologies to remain closely connected despite distance, divorce, military assignment or longterm travel
Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT in Boston, has been researching the impact of new technologies for nearly 30 years. “The Flight from Conversation” was a thoughtful article she wrote for The New York Times. And she gave this TED Talk, “Connected While Alone,” which asks, “As we expect more from technology, do we expect less of each other?”
The average divorced parent has a 12-year shared parenting relationship with their ex-spouse, whether they like it or not. Developing a business-like relationship to exchange information and set up schedules is essential to reducing conflict.
For many ex-spouses, the most frequent opportunity for conflict was over scheduling. One parent wants to plan months in advance; the other is more spontaneous. An online shared calendar such as that offered by www.ourfamilywizard.com can make communication easier for ex-spouses to co-parent.
Both parents need easy access to report cards, treasured family photographs, medical records, insurance reimbursement forms, school notices, teacher notes, academic records, student essays and papers, homework assignments, tests and test results.
Since the mid-1990s, computer technology and the Internet have had a profound impact on teen culture. They spend hours each day gaming, texting, and chatting online. Yet what is the impact of this radical change?
“Watching 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968, I marveled at the improbable scene of an astronaut making a video call to his family back on earth," wrote Daniel Mintz in a New York Times column. A road warrior dad who travels for weeks at a time in his job as founder of Olympus Capital Holdings Asia, he "never imagined that some 30 years later, I’d rush out of a business dinner in Hong Kong to make a videoconference call to my home in New York so that I could see my 17-month-old daughter, Noa, before her breakfast.”
Worried that his daughter wouldn’t feel connected with him while he was away, Mintz installed web cams. “She has clearly mastered the medium,” he observed. “Now she squeals with delight when I appear on the screen; she leaps at the camera, updates me on the latest gossip in her own largely unintelligible language and shows off her latest tricks….She happily tooted on the harmonica and then proudly clapped at her own two-second recital.”
By maintaining a visual connection with his daughter during his long trip, Mintz felt he had avoided, “for the most part, the painful ‘stranger treatment’ that many other frequent fliers tell me that they receive from their very young children for a day or two after their return.”
A web camera is usually a more effective way to communicate with small children than a traditional phone call, because children can see as well as hear the person on the other end.
From my own experience, I could testify that liberal use of virtual visiting was neither an "ideal" compromise in custody cases that some champions of the practice asserted, nor the "callous substitute" that opponents railed against. In family relations, one size rarely fit all.
Military dad records bedtime story for daughter, 2. She hugs the screen, and converses with him as if they were in the same room, in real time. Very cute!
One of the old arguments I used to hear against parents and children virtually visiting together was, "You can't hug a computer." To heck you can't. This kid does it. She's not focused on the hardware, she's focused on her dad. As technology has gotten easier, and people get more accustomed to using computers for communication with families, the devices actually disappear from the conscious mind. What remains, what's important are the relationships.
It’s a strange mix of childhood adorableness, developmental psychology, and tech. Like the baby with the iPad, this girl’s part of a generation where the screen and the virtual things on it might seem more real than what they’re reproducing. And it’s one thing when it’s an issue ofVogue — but what about when it’s a dad?
Currently about 10 million children in the US do not have a standard face-to-face relationship with one of their parents. The Full Circle Ladies of Canada discuss the idea of virtual parenting through Skype in the video above.
They cite a 2009 British Columbia Supreme Court ruling in which a divorced mom requested to move from Vancouver to Australia with her kids. She had suggesting that the children could have daily visits with Dad on Skype. But the judge determined that "daily contact by video conference over the Internet is not sufficient access between a father and his children."
Many people, too anxious and inhibited to talk with a therapist face-to-face about intimate and embarrassing feelings, facing work pressures and scheduling conflicts, fearing stigma and judgment about having a “mental health problem,” turn to the Internet for online counseling in the privacy of their own homes.
"Without the visual contact, I could really open up. I gained so many insights, " Martha Ainsworth, an Internet consultant, told The Washington Post. The impersonal nature of e-therapy is both its strength and weakness. Clients could carefully articulate what was bothering them and get right to the point without wasting time on social niceties. They didn’t feel on the spot. With the time delay of email, they could reflect on their counselor’s advice. On the other hand, mental health professionals didn’t have an opportunity to closely evaluate their clients’ “affect” -- visual and oral expressions weren’t conveyed, serious depression or mental illness could go undetected.
What is your digital legacy? Better start thinking about what happens to your email, Facebook, banking and other online accounts when you die. Otherwise, you'll leave headaches for your loved ones. Click.
Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, describes how in the near future, "your digital ghost," using artificial intelligence, will live on forever and give advice to your great-great-grandchildren and other descendants.
Then he discovers that a company, VirtualEternity.com, already exists to create digital avatars of the living, who will eventually be dead, but will be able to answer questions, give advice, tell stories, and convey the wisdom you gathered during your lifetime. "The current version is a little bumpy, yet awesome," Adams writes, "and apparently it requires you to populate the database about yourself in a manual way. But it's easy to see how it could evolve until the animation is smooth and three-dimensional, the voice is nearly perfect, and it gathers information from the Internet and your hard drive to fill in the blanks about your life."
Since more and more seniors are texting and tweeting there appears to be a need for a STC (Senior Texting Code).
If you qualify for Senior Discounts, this is the code for you....
ATD: At The Doctor's BFF: Best Friend Fell BTW: Bring The Wheelchair BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth CBM: Covered By Medicare CUATSC: See You At The Senior Center DWI: Driving While Incontinent FWB: Friend With Beta Blockers FWIW: Forgot Where I Was FYI: Found Your Insulin GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!
Chicago Tribune: "Language added to an Illinois law this month includes virtual visitation among the rights of noncustodial parents, making it enforceable by a judge. According to the measure, parents are entitled to electronic visits unless the court believes that contact would be harmful to the child."