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Smartphones ruin family ties
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 21 - 12 - 2012

Renad Ghanem
Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The digital revolution though the driving force in global advancement has also brought with it unique sets of issues – the prominent being the lack of connectivity between family members.
Computers and Internet brought the world closer, but distanced family members as the generational gap widened with the savvy younger ones preferred to be clued in and glued to the screen and the Net.
Advancement in technology from desktop to the mobile connectivity has increased the gap between family members with the advent of smartphones.
Earlier, members at least would be in one house despite the growing silence. But today with smartphones, each member creates their own space and focuses on the issues of their choice.
Despite of the benefits the smartphones it is turning out be a key reason for children insulating themselves in their own virtual world, and avoiding social interaction and family ties.
The smartphones make children savvy of the technological spread as they are quick to grasp the nitty-gritty of the evolving smartphones, however complicated.
But they do not show the same quickness in real life by adapting to the situations and times. Even the simple process of talking to their parents or friends becomes an ordeal, but they will readily converse through the smartphones.
A scientific study by King Saud University students indicated that smartphones have affected the lives of 44% of Saudi families. The study was part of an awareness campaign titled “Sorry, but my family comes first.” It pointed to the negative effects of the excessive use of smart phones.
The study involved 400 people of both sexes of ages ranging between 20 to 40 years. Neglecting family needs and ties by focusing on smartphones was highlighted as a key reason for the negative effect.
From the sample population of the survey, 79% admitted to the negative effects of excessive use of smartphones, while 40% had experienced these effects.
Saudi Gazette interviewed families who faced this issue.
“I have asked my children to stop using their smartphones while they are spending time with the family,” said Sana'a Ahmed, a Saudi housewife and mother of five boys.
She said she noticed family members talking, playing or chatting on their smartphones for hours while sitting in the same room, but not uttering a word to each other. “that's when I set down this home rule,” she added.
Sana'a's children, aged between 11 and 16, use the BBM and WhatsApp applications more than games, and she noticed their moods varying following these conversations.
“Before these mobile apps we used to go out every weekend and dinner was quality family time with everyone talking, discussing, joking and advising…,” she said. “ But now silence grows by the hour as all are on their smartphones.”
Sana'a has set out to her family a time without smartphones, which have to be left in their rooms. “We meet after my husband returns from work, all of us gather to watch television and discuss our day and plans for tomorrow.”
Another Saudi said that since he got his children BlackBerry he feels that it's ruined family life.
“My children instead of talking to each other message each other even though they are in the same room,” said Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, a private sector employee.
“I got my children BlackBerry and this is the result,” he said, adding, “If any one of them wants a glass of water they message their mother on the BBM.”
“I have asked them to leave their smartphones for at least 2 hours a day, but they get flustered and angry, but I ignore their tantrums and run my writ to give them a taste of real life,” he said.
“From 6-8 p.m. it's family time, and if any one disobeys this order, I punish them by taking the phone away till the next morning,” he said.
Mansour Abdul Rahman, a Saudi employee, brought smartphones for his family.
But witnessing the family growing apart, he traded the smartphones for basic cell phones. Now without BlackBerry and IPhones, we have more quality family time.

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