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Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media

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Edited By Carol J. Bruess

Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media is an innovative collection of contemporary data-driven research and theorizing about how digital and social media are affecting and changing nearly every aspect of family interaction over the lifespan. The research and thinking featured in the book reflects the intense growth of interest in families in the digital age. Chapters explore communication among couples, families, parents, adolescents, and emerging adults as their realities are created, impacted, changed, structured, improved, influenced and/or inhibited by cell phones, smartphones, personal desktop and laptop computers, MP3 players, e-tablets, e-readers, email, Facebook, photo sharing, Skype, Twitter, SnapChat, blogs, Instagram, and other emerging technologies. Each chapter significantly advances thinking about how digital media have become deeply embedded in the lives of families and couples, as well as how they are affecting the very ways we as twenty-first-century communicators see ourselves and, by extension, conceive of and behave in our most intimate and longest-lasting relationships.
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1. Research on Technology and the Family: From Misconceptions to More Accurate Understandings

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From Misconceptions to More Accurate Understandings

LYNNE M. WEBB

Florida International University

Introduction

For more than a decade, the popular press in the United States has featured news stories on the negative impact of new media on children. As a result, parents are repeatedly urged to monitor their children’s Internet use. Media panic concerning children’s safety was particularly fueled at three points:

Currently, the traditional news media cover a wide variety of stories about families and their online behavior. In 2014 alone, stories appeared on the effects of smartphones at the dinner table, parental-control options on smartphones, and video-monitoring children’s bedrooms to proctor Internet use. One headline read, “OMG, the Internet Can Be a Scary Place with Kids!” (Byers, 2014).

Like many phenomena featured in contemporary news stories, negative reports garner the most attention—even though such negative outcomes are rare and the stories often contradict research findings concerning the phenomenon. Nonetheless, as these stories settle into our collective consciousness, we begin to believe (and perpetuate by sharing with others in our social networks) multiple cultural misconceptions about how families use personal communication technologies (PCTs) such as cell phones, tablets, and laptop computers. We might fear for the future of the prototypical American family as more and more of us acquire laptop computers for individual use, as children begin using cell phones at younger and...

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