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Impact of Internet on Family Relationships | Mrs. Anjana Arora |

• family
• Internet
• changes
• relationship

The internet has significantly changed the way that people live and work, with many families now relying on digital tools for communication, employment, education and entertainment.  

Digital communication tools such as Facebook and email can help families save time and money contacting friends and extended family members, and simplify communication when families are apart.  

The internet can allow parents to telecommute, work at home as they raise young children, and easily access learning experiences.

Unfortunately, recent studies also suggest that the internet can have negative effects on family relationships.  High internet use may lead to conflict between parents and adolescents over teenagers’ lack of social skills and it can mean that people neglect their family relationships.

The introduction of new technologies such as the Internet into the household can potentially change the quality of family relationships. We developed and tested a family boundaries approach, suggesting that frequency and type of Internet use are negatively related to family time and positively related to family conflicts, yielding a low overall perception of family cohesion. We also tested a compositional approach that suggests that the effects on family cohesion are the result of a predisposition in individuals of low self-esteem to be frequent Internet users.

The compositional approach received partial support, but it did not substantially change the link of Internet use to family time and family conflicts.

We developed and tested a family boundaries approach, suggesting that frequency and type of Internet use are negatively related to family time and positively related to family conflicts, yielding a low overall perception of family cohesion. We also tested a compositional approach that suggests that the effects on family cohesion are the result of a predisposition in individuals of low self-esteem to be frequent Internet users. The conceptual model was tested by structural equation models and cross-sectional data from the Israeli National Youth Survey (n = 396) of adolescents ages 12 to 18. The results showed support for the family boundaries perspective. The compositional approach received partial support, but it did not substantially change the link of Internet use to family time and family conflicts. 

The present study deepens the understanding of how social media can produce changes within family systems, taking into consideration the role that parents’ perceptions about the impact of social media on family systems, whether positive or negative, can exert in the relationship between their perceived collective family efficacy and an open communication among family members; specifically, the leading hypothesis referred to the mediator role of these perceptions, whether positive or negative, in the above-mentioned relationship. The results confirm the hypothesis, showing that parents’ perceptions represent a partial mediator of the relationship between their perceptions about collective family efficacy and openness of communications; nevertheless, the indirect effect of collective family efficacy on openness of family communications via parents’ perceptions about the impact of social media on family systems was small, showing that all the direct effects in the model were still bigger.