1 in 5 parents use gadgets as in-home intercom with kids

In another sign of how technology can foster more communication, a new survey in Britain found that one in five parents use tech gadgets to talk to their own children while inside the same home. Supermarket chain Asda recently conducted a nationwide survey and found parents were increasingly using technology as a form of in-home intercom with their kids, calling them to dinner or telling them to do their chores.

The most popular channel for this in-home communication was text messaging, which accounted for 55 percent of interactions. Facebook followed with 20 percent, and mobile phone calls trailed with 13 percent. For parents, the most popular message was “Dinner’s ready,” which accounted for 13 percent of messages on all mediums. Parents also frequently sent messages such as “clean your room” and “do your homework.”

“The fact is that technology puts us in touch with more people more often than ever before – and this is as true at home as it is when we’re out and about. Communicating with teens, for example, has never been the easiest thing for parents, and now low-cost gadgets are giving us a hotline to their rooms,” said Asda’s technology expert Nathan Mills.

It’s easy to send out a quick text to kids to gather them around the dinner table or get on them to complete their homework. Most homes don’t have intercoms, so cell phones can serve that role. Group messaging apps can assist with these situations, when family members need to send out short messages to everyone in the family. It shows mobile phones can shorten the distance between people in all kinds of contexts, even when it’s among family members within the same building.

I initially worried parents could use cell phones as a way to avoid real face-to-face interaction with their kids. It’s easier sometimes to nag via a cell phone about late homework than following up face to face. We already have a lot of side-stepping of direct communications via technology and that can sometimes lead to misunderstandings because it’s often hard to understand what a person is saying without hearing their words, seeing a facial expression and reading body language. But from what I hear from some parents, it’s really about establishing communication lines with teens, who aren’t always thrilled to talk to their parents. Many parents are desperate to communicate with their children, and adopting the favored tools of their kids is one way to ensure they make that link. It might seem odd at first for people who don’t have kids and teens, but this is becoming a way of life for many families.

Image courtesy of Flickr user pixieclipx.