Bringing the Family Together
|A new Internet service, www.talk2thefamily.com, is being launched to provide a virtual home for 21st century families. With lifestyles becoming increasingly demanding, families are finding it more challenging to stay in touch and get involved in their communities as much as they might like.
The service has been created to address people’s need for family contact and support, despite the social changes of recent generations. Many families are now living away from their loved ones – whether they are married, on a career secondment or retired – and often find the family links suffering as a result.
www.talk2thefamily.com aims to overcome the distances between modern families, providing an easy to use communication channel to help strengthen relationships and enable families to share experiences, even when they cannot be together.
One of the key features of the service is a family newsletter which goes out to all the family every week. So even family members who do not use the service can keep up to date with forthcoming birthdays, community and family news or events.
As separated families become more common, the reality of family ‘quality time’ is changing. With both parents leading busy, pressured lives during the working week, weekend visits to the in-laws’ may be less frequent than doting grandparents might wish. It was exactly this problem that spurred Chris Plumb to launch www.talk2thefamily.com.
He explains: “Because of our busy lives, our two children were seeing precious little of their cousins in Bedfordshire and grandparents in Cumbria. Having already designed and run several websites, I realised the Internet could be a great way to keep in touch and share photos and experiences within our own family. As a primary school teacher however I was all too aware of the need for absolute safety and privacy, especially where the kids are concerned.”
www.talk2thefamily.com offers a very easy way to enjoy a private family website; a virtual home where relatives can chat online, share news, update the family calendar and add to the photo album. It’s simple enough even for young children to use – and offers a secure online environment, safe from uninvited users and unwanted emails.
For some families, getting the grandparents and grandchildren together is only the half of it. With modern times, the traditional idea of family is changing. Being part of an online community could actually help to strengthen a looser knit family structure, increasing the sense of belonging – of kinship.
Of course, there are few who assume that people who communicate online are retreating from real social contact. But in fact the opposite is true. Professor Keith Hampton, an expert in cyber-sociology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that the Internet can serve to bind a community together, helping maintain ties with friends and relatives.
“The social impact of new communications technologies is a greater number of social ties, more diverse social ties, more supports,” he says. “Communication online leads to more communication, in person or on the phone.”
Rather than driving a wedge between the older and younger generations, the spread of broadband – and the new service www.talk2thefamily.com - has enabled families to create a virtual home on the web and stay in touch with relatives from anywhere in the world.
Says new customer Julia Draycott, a working mother raising three children: “I think talk2thefamily is a fantastic way to stay in touch. We have a big family – including three sisters and 12 cousins, spread all over the south east, north west, Yorkshire and the midlands. The only time we all meet up is at weddings and funerals and I haven’t even seen the two newest arrivals in the family yet!”
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