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    Americans Spend Less Time With Families

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    The findings of a new study by the University of Southern California indicate that whether it is around the dinner table or in front of the television, but members of U.S. families are spending less time with each other.

    As family time eventually dicreases, there is a rise in the use of Internet and the number of social networking sites, although a new study did not say that those sites are to blame for. The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California revealed that 28 per cent of those who took part in the survey, reported that they have been spending less time with members of their families. That figure has nearly tripled since 2006, when 11 per cent of families had indicated to be spending less time with household members. However, these individuals did not report spending less time with their friends. In the beginning of the 21st century, in 2000, people spent about 26 hours every month with their families. By 2008, the number dropped to just 18 hours.

    In addition, the study found that a high percentage of Internet users reported being ignored sometimes or often because another member of the family spent too much time browsing the web (44 per cent reporting). And even higher percentage (48 per cent) said that they were ignored because other members spent too much time watching television.

    "The primary purpose of the studies conducted by the Center for the Digital Future is exploring the profound changes in views and behavior that have occurred during those 15 years of Internet use - as well as the changes yet to come," reported Jeffrey I. Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

    Michael Gilbert from the center noted that the majority of people interviewed admitted to spending a lot of time on popular social sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, along with their friends who appear to be the site users as well. In 2009, Facebook's users have increased to 200 million, compared to 100 million last year.

    According to the survey, the percentage of adults who said that their kids spent too much time using the Internet, has climbed for the fourth year in a row. Overall, the amount of time that web browsers spent online has increased in each year of the Digital Future studies, and at present time has surpassed an average of 17 hours on a weekly basis. Digital Future study has also revealed that today, the percentage of people in the Unites States who use the Internet has reached 80 per cent, and the highest percentage of Internet use is among Americans under the age of 18.

    The development of the modern new technologies has, in some ways, an impact on the way family members socialize and interact. Mobile phones make it easier for parents to keep track of where their kids are, but at the same time this allows children to have a kind of privacy they would never have had in the past days. TV watching has cut into dinner time, and as TV sets become cheaper and cheaper, they also are present now almost in every room, so that parents and their children no longer have to gather in the living room to watch it.

    Among some other findings of the study are that, likely because they can afford more Web-connected gadgets, higher-income families reported greater loss of family interaction time, when compared to families with lower income. And more women rather than men said that they felt ignored by a member of a household using the Internet.

    The center's latest survey was a random poll of 2,030 individuals with the ages 12 and up, and was carried out from April 9 to June 30, 2008, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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