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Technology Brings Back 1950s Family Living Room Scene

Neil Patrick
A family watching television together in a photograph dated 1958 by Evert F. Baumgardner - National Archives and Records Administration


A family watching television together in a photograph dated 1958 by Evert F. Baumgardner - National Archives and Records Administration

A family watching television together in a photograph dated 1958 by Evert F. Baumgardner – National Archives and Records Administration

Family time in 1958 [VIA]

I have recently stumbled upon a survey by Ofcom, one of the largest regulator of communications in the United Kingdom. The new survey states that more families are now gathering into the living room reminiscent of the 1950s. And these families have technology to thank for the comeback of this scene. The reinvention of the “1950s living room” in the modern times only shows the power of technology to family life, as claimed by Ofcom’s Director of Research Mr. James Thickett.

The 1950s living room scene could be pictured with members of the family in one room watching their favorite shows in television. Today, families gather in one room also in front of the television. However, “we are watching on much better, much bigger, more sophisticated television sets than we have ever done, but we are coming into the living room clutching our connected devices,” said Ofcom’s Head of Media Research Jane Rumble.

“Our research shows that increasingly families are gathering in the living room to watch TV just as they were in the 1950s – but now delivered on bigger, wider and more sophisticated sets. Unlike the 1950s family, however, they are also doing their own thing. They are tweeting about a TV show, surfing the net or watching different content altogether on a tablet,” Thickett added.

No longer are members, the children in particular, staying in their rooms facing their computers. They are gathering in one room with smaller screens on hand. The families are watching the same show and are talking about the show on different social media sites.


Contemporary Living Room Scenery

Contemporary Living Room Scenery


The similarity is that families then and now are in one room. The result of the survey, however, does not reflect whether the members of the families have quality time together while being in one room. The result does not show whether family members are interacting. One could be tweeting, the other could be on Facebook while another could be on Skype. The question remains on whether technology can make people become closer relationship-wise.

They certainly are gathered in one room. Although they may be doing different things at one time. In the 1950s, the families also gather in the living room doing their own thing such as sewing or reading. They are not necessarily conversing.

Technology, though, can help enhance the viewing experience by talking about the show in social media sites or by searching in Google certain terms not understood during the show. The big family conversation may not necessarily happen.

The survey further reveals that a huge number of children in the country possess gadgets in the form of tablets, smart phones and laptops which they can bring particularly anywhere around the house. The children are using these gadgets for media meshing, among others, browsing through the internet while viewing television.

Internet and digital media has really increased over the years. More and more are using tablets and families are spending more and more on communications. It is up for families, especially the parents, to set the rules on the use of these gadgets. For example, parents find it okay for children to own and use tablets as a digital babysitter keeping kids occupied.

But, technology should be banned from the table during dinner time. This makes the family get to enjoy a moment free from their gadgets and get to taste their meal more meaningfully. Gadgets should also not distract the members from important work or study. They should not keep them from getting enough sleep.

It is a common site nowadays for family members doing multi-tasking — watching television while commenting on facebook or tweeting, or emailing or simply browsing through the net. But, it is also important to keep an open personal communication line to family members anytime anywhere.

Neil Patrick

Neil Patrick is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News