Are we truly connected?

With 200GB of Internet data to play with each month, you would think a family of five would be considerably happy with the access they have with this large of a data plan… right? Wrong. Compared to dial up internet, of course this is a great improvement, however when you live with four other people (3 three being teenagers) often 10 different devices, movie downloading, internet surfing and Netflix watching can get a bit too much. You can definitely say that our family of five has evolved with the technological world, yet complaining about the speed and reliability of our internet access is a constant discussion topic.

With seven TV’s in our home, 3 laptops, 3 tablets/iPads, and 6 iPhones, the people within our home are constantly connected to the outside world, but are we connected within the home? Every single person in my family agreed that they wake up and automatically check their social media, emails and messages and fall asleep doing the exact same thing.

In Dana Boyd’s book, Its Complicated she discusses the issue of becoming ‘addicted’ to social media, and many teens feel the need to deactivate Facebook for instance to take a breather. I asked my two younger sisters if they have felt like they were addicted to social media and they both said yes. Olivia, the youngest at 14 admitted “sometimes I find my self on Facebook for literally hours, but I just cant get off… it’s a place where all of my friends communicate, make plans and share other moments.” Both agreed that sometimes they put more importance on what is happening on social media, rather than what is going on in the home and with the people whom they are physically it. This, I believe is a problem. While being more connected online, are we disconnecting ourselves from the real world? Real life?

Cherie clarified this notion that her two daughters get absorbed in their phones. “We may all be sitting around the dinner table, and then one person will just not respond… they could have no idea what is going on around them, but they are fully aware of what is going on online. Its crazy really.” While Cherie sometimes despises this aspect of the ‘connected home’ she can’t help but admit that she is often in the same boat as her daughters. “I can get sucked in too for sure… it could be hours and then I realize S**t I haven’t started dinner.”

Hands up who has shopped at the dinner table? Who has scrolled down Facebook during class? Who has watched Youtube while at the gym? Or who found themselves stalking people they don’t even know on Facebook at work? All members of my family put their hand up to all of these questions (or offered similar alternatives.) Is this a problem I asked? “It’s a little worrying to be honest, but its just a habit, its becomes a normal, everyday function.” My Dad answered. Sherry Turkle further explains this idea of being alone together, and how it could potentially affect relationships, especially within the home. ‘We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere — connected to all the different places they want to be.’

According to the Australian Bureau of statistics, accessing the Internet has increased about 20% since 2006. Over 80% of households in 2013 access the Internet everyday. This can be seen true when analysing my families online household usage, with all five people accessing the Internet at least once every day.

Households with internet access(a), frequency of access, 2006–07 to 2012–13

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While studying my families online usage, and online habits, I think it is fair to say that we will definitely be getting the NBN one day. However this may not be in the near future, as it is not available where I live just yet. New suburbs close to my house have NBN availability Though, which is good sign and an indicator that it is coming closer!

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 10.42.13 am
NBN availability at my home and surrounding.

Em x

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