Synergy of New Technologies and Familial Communication:
The Internet as a New Medium for Enhancing Better Family Life?
Pek-Ki Ko (Cybersenior Networking Development Association, Hong Kong)
To examine the likely synergy of the Internet and familial, inter-generational, communication, this paper will present cases studies, elaborating the impact of the Internet on parent-child communication in family life. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) changes our ways of communications dramatically in the past decade, this is particularly for the Internet, as a new tool for borderless, overcoming temporal and spatial barriers, communication. It provides a fast, cheap and real time communication with others. This makes people more willing and ready not just to initiate new social relationships with people but also encourages people to maintain, or better reinforcing, the existing ones – we will show this in our case studies on parent-child relationship.
Despite the number of elders having experiences of using computer is still limited nowadays, those elders with higher education, better financial conditions are more likely to use learn to use it. Some of elders share that they learn to use the Internet as they want to have better communication with their families, e.g., their children. Here, the Internet will have positive contribution for familial communication because of the widely use of the Internet as an ever-upgrading communication tool among people. Hence, for the elderly parent using the Internet as an additional way to communicate with their child appropriately, this change of communication pattern may affect the quality of interaction, most likely, in a positive way. Our cases show the positive aspect of the Internet that helps the empty-nest elderly parents to maintain close(r) interactions with their adult children when they are geographically living apart, the related change of communication pattern and its impact on quality of parent-child relationship, as well as how senior adults (as parents) engage with ICT.