Since human beings first fashioned primitive hand tools, technology has continuously transformed the way we life, the nature of our relationships with each other and the manner in which we interact with our environment and nature itself. As we approach the 21st Century, technology is all pervasive in industrial societies and is increasingly impacting itself upon developing countries. It is said that technology affects us from the cradle to the grave. All embracing though that may sound it is an underestimation of what is happening.
Technology now affects us before we are born and in many cases after we die. How and if we are conceived now frequently depends on technology. Once conceived, the fetus will be monitored and in some cases remedial surgery will be undertaken on the child even before it is born. At the other end of the scale even after death, part of us may exist as transplanted organs or as frozen sperm and embryos. It is now perfectly possible to produce offspring many years after one’s death. In consequence, the notion of what it is to be a mother, a father and "to have a family" is being daily re-defined. It is the most profound definition of socialization within a family when a child simply states that "Families do things together, and Mom and Dad make the rules." In an era where there can be miles of physical separation between members of a family on any given day, technology has the effect of keeping them "together" in ways that were not possible even 15 years ago.
Impact of the Technological Revolution on the Family: Opportunities and Challenges
In every society the family is the primary unit around which society is organized. The word ‘family’ in many developing countries has a connotation different from that attributed to it in Western industrialized countries. While in industrialized countries a family is constituted of a man, his wife and their children; in many developing countries, particularly those in Africa, the family is made up of a man, his wife/wives and a number of their close blood relations in the same household. It is not uncommon that it would be composed of three generations. The traditional African family is based not only on direct blood ties, but also on several individuals’ awareness of being descended from the same ancestor. In a traditional family of around 6-10 people, sometimes more, everyone has a role to play for the survival, security, and wellbeing of the family. This includes children above a certain age, usually around 6-7 years old. The individual roles are inter-linked to sustain the family as a social unit. Age is often the decisive factor in determining ones role, rights, and duties within the family. The family depends largely on the productive efforts of its members to sustain itself.
The main role of the family is in ensuring the survival, protection, and development of children and to support each other socially, morally and economically.The family as an institution is changing progressively from the traditional concept of a family to a much smaller unit. The pace of change is quickening and all aspects of life are being affected at once. The consequences are longer-term and they are global. This is why their consideration is so urgent. Education, economic activities, infusion of cultures, religion, migration, urbanization, plus improvements in living standards, to mention only a few factors, all tend to loosen the traditional structure, to make people more individualistic. They have forced past ways, past customs and practices to adapt, particularly as regards family structures. The growing economic independence of women has widened their margin of negotiation with regard to domestic rights and responsibilities. Couples have had to adapt to a more symmetrical relationship than was common in the past. The stability of this relationship has come to depend...