Digital Technology – Boon or Bane of Communication?

It’s a hot topic at the moment, how digital technology is changing all aspects of our lives.  From parents concerned  that their teenager’s  social life seems mostly digital to the very real perils of cyber bullying.  So is digital communication a good thing for families or not.

The good thing that most polls tend to show that families believe that technology has improved lives.  If you ask the children then that belief is even more entrenched with the majority saying that they have more opportunities due to technology.    So how does all this technology help or hinder families?

There’s no doubt that when distance is involved – technology is a huge advantage.  A family split over continents a couple of decades ago would rarely talk – perhaps a monthly phone call or a letter.  The delays and costs have now virtually disappeared, message apps like Skype and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook keep people instantly in touch.  I can see what my friends are doing at any given moment, even when they’re on the other side of the world.

Young people tend to share lots of information, happily using apps like Foursquare to update their physical location online.   There is a worry that this is a little bit too much and some young people are not thinking enough about their digital footprint.  But as far as communication goes, it’s great to be able to keep in touch with someone like a family abroad or a good friend who’s emigrated.  Let’s face it a friend emigrating to Australia 30 years ago, would likely never be seen again – now you’re likely to stay in touch using the medium of the internet.

There’s no doubt it’s making the world a much smaller place in many ways.  If a British citizen decides they want to swap the drizzle of Cumbria for the sun of Florida then it’s a much simpler transition now.  Skype will keep them in touch with all their British family and friends, Facebook will update statuses and gossip.  You can even use applications like this – http://iplayerusa.org/, so they can settle down and watch EastEnders and the BBC News of an evening.

These benefits are available to all of course, but for today’s young people there are certainly more opportunities, they don’t see the internet through eyes of fear and suspicion.

John Hetheringham

Digital TV Consultant