How does technology affect family life?

Digital families across the life course

In recent years we have experienced a digital revolution which has permeated every part of our lives - from the way we consume, to how we access public services, to how we communicate with our families and friends. In spite of all these changes, there have been few opportunities to reflect on the changes which new technologies have brought to our personal and family lives.

The BBC considered this recently, in its documentary series 'Back in time for the weekend', which follows a family from the 1950s to the present day, charting how changes in technology affect their daily lives and their family relationships.

To respond to these changes and enable discussion of these important issues, the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships in partnership with Parenting across Scotland has developed a knowledge exchange programme called 'Digital families across the life course' with funding from the Scottish Universities Insight Institute.

The programme has considered the digital revolution at three life stages - childhood, family life and older age. It has explored various issues - how experiences differ across the generations; the contribution of digital technologies to developing and maintaining social networks; the effect on education, work/life balance, lifelong learning and wellbeing; and the inequalities from having different access to and use of digital technology.

The academics behind the programme hope to have a more nuanced discussion than the typical 'binary' discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of new technologies. They would like to foster new collaborations to make sure that research and new thinking inform policy and practice.

To stimulate discussion at our second seminar 'Digital Families are here to stay' we commissioned a short film to find out what the general public says about digital technology and family life.

For comments and other useful links see Twitter #digifam1516

Towards the end of the programme, we will produce a briefing paper to summarise the themes emerging from the three events and to set out future action.

Other useful links:

Parentzone: making the internet work for families

Parenting for a Digital Future: blog from the Department for Media and Communications at the London School of Economics