A comparative study on the impacts of computers on family life in Hong Kong and Sydney

Lai King Kitty LAU-HO, Louise DUVERNET

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Technology, especially computers, has become a part of life for many people in the world. This has taken place without people being aware of it. The personal computer has changed our lifestyle in respect of activities ranging from communicating with people to reading the newspaper. It has also impacted on people's physical health and relationships within families. This in turn, affects the well being of individuals and families. Three main themes that have emerged from the literature are: social interactions, health and quality of family life. 1. SOCIAL INTERACTIONS - The use of electronic media such as Email and ICQ has provided people with immediacy and work has become very efficient. However, it has cut down on face-to-face human interaction. 2. HEALTH - As people are devoting more time on the Internet and ICQ and are passively looking at the computer screen, this has frequently resulted in fatigue, eyestrain, burning soreness and headache. Young people may go to bed late and come to class tired. 3. QUALITY OF FAMILY LIFE - Computers have provided opportunities for family togetherness in some households but conflicts and tensions were evidenced in other homes. As there are a variety of perspectives about the impacts of information technology on family life. The purpose of the study was to gather information on how computers have changed people's lives and the social interactions in two different cultural settings. A survey was administered to a group of full-time tertiary students at The Hong Kong Institute of Education and the same survey was presented to technology students at The Australian Catholic University. A comparison of data collected from the two institutions produced insights into the cultural similarities and the differences in the use of computers and their impacts on the family. The analysis of the results revealed some thematic perspectives, which support the evidence reviewed in the literature. Similarities were found and these included the major purposes for using the computer, the duration of using the computer and issues that caused conflicts with family members. Some differences, however, were evidenced between the Hong Kong and Sydney studies. These included the amount of time spent on sleeping and family communication. This study is important in identifying the positive effects and negative impacts of technology in some cultures. Differences between the two cultures are discussed. Recommendations are provided to assist individuals and families to respond positively to the impacts of computers on family life around the globe.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2002


Lau, K., & Duvernet, L. (2002, July). A comparative study on the impacts of computers on family life in Hong Kong and Sydney. Paper presented at the International Household & Family Research Conference 2002: Consumers and Families as market actors, Helsinki, Finland.


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