Family (dis ) harmony in front of the computer screen. Tanja Oblak Črnič, Associate Professor, University of Ljubljana E-mail contact: [email protected] Research framework and questions. Relations between computer technology and private sphere:
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»about appropriating objects to the self, but is about how we make ourselves at home, how we make them habitable and comfortable, and use objects to manage the social world« (Lalley 2002:2).
1. CT as an extension of the parents’ work
Ex: “Yes, I needed the computer mainly because of my work. I have my own firm and this requires a great deal of work at home. I think this was the main reason for the purchase.” (father of two children, 52).
2. CT as an opportunity for the children
Ex: “Yes, we bought the computer mainly for the children, because they needed it for their school work. (…) I think my son wanted to have a computer more than any of us.” (father of three children, 50).
3. CT as an inevitable investment for the future
Ex: “The reason for the purchase was a very simple one: we needed a computer. It was popular, many people had it already, it was supposed to bring us advantages. So, we bought one. It was necessary, just like a TV.” (father of three children, 45)
1. CT as an intruder
Ex: “The computer represented great fun and an adrenalin rush along with the desire to learn new things. My husband enjoyed the computer, as well, and at the same time it made his work easier. Personally, I have always considered the computer as an intruder and I am still not very fond of it.” (mother of two children, 50)
2. CT as a trouble-maker
Ex:“I’ve lost my temper several times, because there is nobody I can talk to. Everyone sits behind their ‘box’ and surfs the Internet, etc. Sometimes it seems as if we are complete strangers. Even when we quarrel, we never talk about it afterwards, because everyone pretends to be busy behind their computer and supposedly does not have time to talk. Sometimes I am so angry about all thistechnological progress!” (mother of two daughters, 47)
3. CT as an inappropriate comforter
Ex: “… I have noticed several times that, after a quarrel, my children find comfort in computer games, which I do not approve of. I would rather see them crying on their beds than sitting in front of the computer screen, because this is certainly not the right solution.” (father of three children, 45)
1. “transitional nature” of CT – from “only a toy” to “a multi-tool”:
Ex: “At the beginning the computer was a toy. However, today this toy has acquired a new meaning. It has become a multi-tool for everything from searching for seminar essays, to free-time activities and chatting with friends. I have even flirted with girls in various chat-rooms. I also use the computer for searching music and movies, which I then listen to or watch on the computer, as well. Everything is possible if you have a computer.” (the middle son, 16)
2. “ambivalent” role of CT:
Ex: “When I got my computer, it was just a new toy, which I did not really need and it served mostly for playing computer games. Now it represents a trouble, because I have to write different school papers and assignments.” (the younger daughter, 18).
3. CT “should not be blamed”:
Ex: “Maybe we do not talk as much as we used to, since everyone is in his or her own corner, doing things for work or for school. (…) We are so preoccupied with ourselves that we do not find the time for deep discussions any more, but I think that the reason for this is not the computer. It is just how things are today; people, rushing and not having any time for each other.” (the youngest daughter, 17)