How many times have we said that our home is that safe, private, intimate, stable place that allows us to develop normally and gives us the tools to go out and live in society? Thousands of times.
However much society evolves, however much change comes, however much technology bursts in and develops at breakneck speed, nothing is going to change the raison d’être of the home. That is why we must pay attention to anything that could jeopardise this value and role.
Last week HRF participated in a meeting with the Spanish association The Family Watch. We were invited to talk about these issues and one of the conclusions we came to and which we have all experienced is that the impact of technologies in the home is both positive and negative. It is undeniably bringing benefits and saving us time, and being able to recognise this and take advantage of it is important. But we also need to be aware of the problems it is causing us in terms of privacy, instability, isolation, communication and relationships between family members.
The participants in the session asked me for formulas, alternatives, recipes to ensure that the integration, the incorporation of technology is adequate. And, even at the risk of disappointing the audience, I could only be honest and answer that there are no magic recipes, but that every home has to develop an approach that works for their circumstances. The response to technology will never be simple because we are facing a complex reality, as explained in our report by Mei Ling Fung and Patrick Scannell.
There are, though, recommendations that we can try to apply and that require effort on our part, namely education and prudence. Have we looked through the peephole before opening the door of our home and letting in someone who is friendly and beneficial but who is also a stranger? Have we taken into account that technology seems innocuous but once inside can we lose control of its impact? Have we read the small print or the side effects and still want to go ahead? Are we aware that artificial intelligence is already among us and is changing the way we communicate, the way we work, the way we relate to each other?
The changes do not have to be bad, we simply have to be aware of them and be the ones to decide in which direction and in which way we want these changes to influence our lives and our homes. Let us be the ones to take the reins now because only we should be the ones making decisions when our homes are at stake.