Family is considered to be one of the influencing and determining factors in the social life of man, without the existence of which the continuation of human life will break. Healthy and unhealthy lifestyle of this social cell can deeply and comprehensively affect various aspects of society so that weakening of the family leads to the appearance of deep crises, such as rejection, harm, social, and cultural problems in society. One of the problems which may cause harm to the family is the adverse consequences of rapid and accelerated technological changes. Changes, which are themselves the source of the emergence of profound transformations and major challenges in the way of relationships and family values. One of the important phenomena of this century is the Internet.
Today, the Internet has occupied a special place in the family structure, and the computer has entered almost every home as a new communication tool. The virtual environment creates special application for users of all ages. The virtual environment puts family before numerous and different ways of life, new personalities and varying cultures.
Recent studies show that families are experiencing stress because of the rapid pace of modern life due to the large number of phone calls, emails, SMS messages and other forms of modern communication.
From the time when the house includes new technologies such as computer, Internet, satellite TV and smartphones, people devote less time to other family members and on the contrary, spend more time in seclusion together with new means of communication. The Internet made the conversation between family members less important. When family members come home from work or school, instead of having to be around and to be closer to each other, they are usually with cell phones or personal computers, searching in the Internet or spending time on social networks, and children devote much time to computer games (Roberts, 1999).
Thanks to the Internet, people without having to overcome distance stay in other place, feel close to each other. This issue is a cause of resentment and quarrels for family members, especially spouses. One of the basic needs of man is to establish relationships with others, and to spouses, pending the availability of close relationships are great. However, when one spouse provides these needs through the Internet, weaken relations with the other spouse and, therefore, their needs that should be provided naturally in a family environment remain unanswered, weakening the level of harmony in family life.
After family members has to some extent know each other, lack of communication in the family certainly separates them from each other, which causes a decrease of trust of family members and eventually has a negative effect. In addition, the virtual world changes the way of life and of human culture and as a result, new values will be expected from the spouse, what is the source of many conflicts between husband and wife.
Internet addiction of some members of the family is another problem. Improper and excessive use of the Internet in a family environment becomes a cause of the breakdown of marriage, termination of marital relations and relations between parents and children (Young & Abreu, 2011). People addicted to Internet or computer games, devote all free time to the computer. There are fathers who come home into the virtual world and have no relationship with his wife or their children. If this does not become a cause of divorce, at the very least it will cause great emotional and mental harm to other family members.
The dependence of the mother from the Internet is also no exception and they usually do not have time to deal with the house and children, which is the reason of disagreements with the husband and lack of the necessary maternal attention to the children (Young, 1998).
In children that are dependent on the Internet, decreases the incentive for relationships with others, which itself has a negative impact on personal and public communication. On the other hand, children can be exposed to deceit and sexual harassment through chat rooms that can confront a family with serious problems.
Another question, to which should be paid attention is the increasing influence of the Internet on women. In general, women users of the Internet are those who are working, receiving education and young people, who are obliged to fulfill the family role of a mother or sister.
Despite the fact that cyber space can be a medium for raising the level of knowledge of women and their necessary training, however, in reality, this environment, imposing their particular values and culture, was able to change the desires and thoughts of women. The introduction of feminist thoughts into the virtual environment became the reason of weakening the mother role and responsibility of women.
Studies show that there are more women on Internet sites than men, and they prefer to receive and send email, shop and devote time to entertainment. Considering the widespread advertising of goods in the Internet environment, it strengthens spirit and penchant for luxury among women consumers.
One of the most important negative effects of the virtual environment is the materials of the immoral content that all people can easily have at their disposal and could endanger the moral security of a family.
Empty and meaningless pastime is dangerous because in many cases the man, himself unwittingly, is faced with such cases. For children, this question poses a great danger because of their curiosity and ignorance, since there is a possibility that after seeing the images and themes of an immoral content, they may exhibit improper sexual behavior, or can be cheated by Internet intruders. Also seeing the incorrect sexual behavior in childhood can form the wrong sexual orientation of the child and in adulthood manifest in the form of sexual deviation.
Training centers and school, headed by consultant on family issues are considered places of education of children. The family is the primary environment education of children and, taking into account all the possibilities, is the most convenient place for education. However, with the advent of Internet in the home, it became possible to introduce children to different cultures and ways of upbringing. The online environment pushes children in a family with many different ways of life, new personalities and unstable cultures. This is why the child’s family values collide with other values, sometimes explicitly contradict the family samples, a choice of which becomes a cause of friction and conflict between children and parents.
One of the issues that represent a serious danger is the proliferation of family secrets, personal information and photographs. Sometimes children end up on suspicious websites, do not knowing this, personal information of which is used by hackers. Thus, it could undermine the identity of the person and his family that sometimes can cause serious damage to family life.
The Internet itself is a neutral tool, but it is important to exactly know how to use these technologies. Proper use of the Internet is that the user should not be allowed to spend his time and energy on the Internet, and instead use it in important areas of life like family, marriage or other relationship.
- Roberts, D. (1999). Kids & media @ the new millennium. Menlo Park, CA: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Young, K. & Abreu, C. (2011). Internet addiction. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
- Young, K. (1998). Caught in the net. New York: J. Wiley.