Go to contents

Family Relationship Drifting Apart Over the Internet

Posted March. 12, 2003 22:25,   


"When my husband comes back home, he won`t do anything but sitting in front of the computer. He doesn`t care even when his kids say hello. All he cares is chatting over the Internet. Coming home late at night after drinking, he goes straight to the computer to say hello to his chatting partners. Guess I have to think seriously about getting a divorce. I can`t help it any more," complains a wife.

"Pushing me more into SAT prep, my Dad took my computer into his room. One day, I opened the room with a copied key and did the online games. But I got caught. Believing that he would come late, I got off earlier from school and enjoyed doing the game. He, however, came early. My Dad scolded me, but I got angry and stood up against him. Since that time, my Dad would not talk to me a word," confesses a male high school student.

The traditional concept of family is undergoing a change with the advent of the information era. More and more family members confront each other over "computer or online disputes," and devote less time to talking with each other.

Kim Seung-kown, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, conducted a research on 2,021 adult subjects to find out the changes South Korean families are undergoing in the information era. The report, which was released yesterday, unfortunately indicates that the changes will transform the family relationship in a negative way.

▽ Family members drifting apart = The report finds that 28.9% of the respondents experienced a family feud over the use of computer. Especially, 46.6% of the teens said that they are having problems with their parents due to the computer use.

46% of all the respondents admitted that they are spending less time with their family members with more time devoted to using computer. 32.4% acknowledged that they are having more of their own time and space, separated from their spouses.

Accordingly, problems are emerging between family members: dwindling communication (19.8%), and decrease in family affinity (13.2%). 4.5% even said that their spouses do not care about other family members.

▽ Changing lifestyle = With more time spent in front of computer, people watch TV less (46.6%), and sleep less (28.8%). Quite a number of the respondents, or 31.2%, prefer online edition of the newspaper to the traditional "hard-copy" version.

One of three, or 30.5%, makes new friends over the Internet. The trend is more "rampant" with younger people. Thus, 62.6% of teens answered they meet new friends online, while 41.1% of the people in 20s answered the same.

16.2% of the people answered that, when they have a problem of his/her own, they resort to a person who is not a family member. Furthermore, 7.6% of the respondents replied that they meet their friends or participate in social events less than before.

More and more people, or 41% of the subjects, confirmed that they resort to the Internet to purchase items like books, medicine, grocery or electronic goods. On the other hand, 30.2% answered that they handle their credit card payments or other financial matters online. 22.2% of the total respondents said that they spend less money with more Internet use.

Researcher Kim opines, "Surfing and using the Internet has become part of our life. All family members have to accept the change and team up together to take responsibility. The whole society also has to do its part in helping families coping with the change by offering educational programs."

Sang-Keun Song songmoon@donga.com