8    Jan 20100 comments

Using Technology to Stay Connected With Your Family (Part 2)

This is the second in a two-part series on how social media technology is helping families stay better connected.

Following on from Part 1, where we discussed how social media is being used to help family members keep each other updated. Another common theme that emerged, while listening to people at Reboot Britain, was the use of technology to have conversations with family members.

Ivo Gormley, a documentary film-maker, shared with us how he didn't actually use Facebook himself, but that his younger sister increasingly did. When asked how he stayed in touch, he responded that his main forms of communication were Gmail or Google Chat, as well as his mobile phone.

You can hear his full perspective on technology and how he uses these tools in a family context here:

By contrast, Lloyd Davis, founder of the social media café Tuttle Club and a consultant on all things social media, had a very different approach to staying connected with his family. He shared how using Direct Messages on Twitter was his favourite means to stay connected with his 16-year-old daughter, and how the 'language' of Twitter was translated as 'disconnected rubbish' by his mother. What is really interesting to note was how he wouldn't use emails with his family, but was more likely to share with them through a social network like Facebook or Twitter. At the same time, though, he still maintained the traditional communication channels, such as phone and simple face-to-face contact.

You can watch the full interview with Lloyd here:

What's interesting about these two examples is how the forms of interaction they use appear to reflect the desire to have something 'real-time', or as immediate as possible.

From the immediacy of a Direct Message on Twitter to the instant conversation that occurs through something like Google Chat, both Ivo and Lloyd used technology to have more 'conversation'-like interactions. Clearly, whilst we may be busy working, not always immediately available to respond to a message or chat request, these tools inherently provide a means for us to synchronise with our family members at our convenience. What's particularly interesting here is not that there exists a desire to connect with family members - clearly that is an innate desire in most if not all of us, rather that these tools allow people to create connections in real time, and in their absence, leave messages for response on their own terms and availability.

Like the Family Chat feature in our toolbar, or the ability to send a message to a family member, some of the features of MyHeritage.com mirror the very ways in which the people we interviewed communicate. These features offer different communication tools enabling people to co-ordinate and then connect, be it in person, or over the Chat Client. (If you haven't tried out the Chat Client, you can download and install the MyHeritage Toolbar.

How do you converse with your family members? Is it primarily over the phone, or is it more often virtual, through Instant Messages, or emails? Do you prefer to co-ordinate with each other via SMS, and then just meet in person? Let us know how you stay connected with your family in the comments below. Thanks for sharing!

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