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Surging Internet Use Cutting Into Family Time
Date:6/18/2009

Rise of Facebook, Twitter coincides with 30% drop in hours spent together, report finds

THURSDAY, June 18 (HealthDay News) -- American kids and their parents are now spending more hours huddled alone around computer screens and cell phone displays, seriously eroding the amount of time families spend together.

That's according to a new report that found the time per week that families interact as group has fallen by nearly a third between 2005 and 2008.

"Family face-to-face time has decreased in a substantial way. There's been a fairly abrupt drop in family time, a process which is usually glacial," said Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication. "Families are the social building blocks of virtually every society, and this can't be a good thing."

In a new survey from the center, researchers found that in 2008, 28 percent of people said that being wired has resulted in them spending less time with family members, a threefold increase from the 11 percent reported just two years ago, in 2006.

"We wanted to put a little alert out about this," Gilbert said. "Technology isn't all good."

This is certainly not the first time researchers have sounded an alarm about Internet use and even "Internet addiction." Other studies have suggested that online usage has significantly disrupted the lives of millions of Americans.

"In the last two decades, there has been an erosion in family dinners together that take place without gadgets," Gilbert said. "There's reduced cohesion, reduced communication."

And the Internet is vastly different from television, which drew (and still draws) people together -- watching, say, Johnny Carson, the 1969 moon landing, or American Idol.

In contrast, "the Internet is one-to-one and so demanding. The key distinction of the Internet is intera
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