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Downsides to Intrafamily IM? 514

Frisky070802 writes "The NY Times has run a column on how many families now use instant messaging within a household, for instance to ask what someone wants for dinner. This is especially popular as whole houses get wired (or wireless) and computers are scattered throughout the house. This is the case at my house but I tend to be the only one who stays on AIM reliably. Can Slashdotters offer some personal experience, pro/con, with being instantly and constantly accessible to one's spouse and children? Does this tend to break down your 'personal time'?"
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Downsides to Intrafamily IM?

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  • by SpacePunk ( 17960 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:39PM (#7867909) Homepage
    What ever happened to just screaming/yelling down a hallway?

    • Re:this is stupid (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fleener ( 140714 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#7867926)
      Why talk to people when you can type to them? There are so many things that trouble me about a family that communicates by IM that I don't know where to begin. So I won't. I think I'll go find someplace to cry.
      • Re:this is stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Have you considered families that live in houses that are so big, you would have to choose between either not communicating at all, or using IM? Or one family member is upstairs, and the other is downstairs? Yeah, there are those intercom things, or you can use a phone (maybe an internal PBX), but IM is great when you already have the infrastructure. I would throw Voice-over-IP into the mix personally.

        Also, it is cool to IM between roommates/family because you can send links or copy and paste, etc. Its
      • by soloport ( 312487 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:16PM (#7868509) Homepage
        My spouse and I share an office. We sit across from each other. We can each look to the left of our monitors and see the other's face -- no yelling required (especially after putting the Athlon with jet-engine-like fan in the next room; door shut).

        We still IM each other, every day. Why? Because we read a lot of web information and it's just so convenient to post a link to the other about our findings.

        Or when a family member IMs one of us, it's easy to just copy the Jabber log out of gaim and paste it into the other's message window and share a conversation.

        Or when a client IMs one of us, we can let the other in on the question or panic-stricken demand for help and colaborate on a course of action.

        That's why!
    • by twoslice ( 457793 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:54PM (#7868041)
      What ever happened to just screaming/yelling down a hallway?

      The old-fashioned wireless communications method - very nice!

      To the newer geeks: The above post is referring to the old wireless technology that utilized a unique QOS priority technique. Messages were encoded using higher and higher DB levels that really worked well - the louder the scream the faster people responded....

    • by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:55PM (#7868044) Homepage Journal
      Well in my house when it's 2AM and I'm still playing SWG or DAOC my wife yelling up the stairs would wake up our 2 yr old and 4 month old pretty quickly.

      Also, as us geeks make money we tend to get bigger houses where yelling between floors isn't as easy as it used to be (at least that's the case at my place) and sometimes the IMs I get are along the lines of ...

      'Come Downstairs and start the grill please'

      "Come downstairs and start the grill - i'm hungry'

      'When are you going to come downstairs and start the grill'

      'If you don't start the grill I'm going to cook the steaks on a broiler!'

      She started it, and she's the normal person of the house.
    • by llamaluvr ( 575102 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:18PM (#7868162) Journal
      It's sorta been a joke with my family. When I'm home, we'll usually have two computers working in the house (my laptop and their desktop). We have one 4-port router in the den, so both computers are generally in there. My mom has given up telling me in person to clean my room, so, we'll both be typing away in the same room 3 feet away from each other, and all the sudden I'll get an IM from her asking why I haven't cleaned my room. I've been tempted to block her ;-).
      • Have you ever had this message:
        "Son, I know you didnt notice me come in but could you jerk off to net porn after i've finished checking my email?" ;-)
    • Re:this is stupid (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @07:42PM (#7869581) Homepage Journal
      "What ever happened to just screaming/yelling down a hallway?"

      Hey dad!! DAAAAAAAAD! Go to ay ess kay dot ess el ay ess H (I don't know how to spell H) dee oh tee dot oh ar gee slash see oh em em ee eh tee ess dot pee el question mark es eye dee equals 91426 and symbol see eye dee equals 7867909... that comment was really funny! What? Emai? Okay.

  • Cons? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CeleronXL ( 726844 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:39PM (#7867910) Homepage
    Everyone in my family uses AIM to communicate around the house. There aren't really any cons to it aside from the fact that it tends to make you lazier and you lose the exercise of having to get up and walk to the person you want to talk to.
  • Back to back! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LinuxHam ( 52232 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#7867920) Homepage Journal
    Sometimes my wife will use her PC while we're in my office, and when she wants to know where to find some stuff on the net, i'll usually just IM her a Google hit page..

    Also, I spent the summer working at a contract a couple hours away from home, and would frequently use AIM on my cellphone while at dinner to let her know that I was still at dinner and would be calling a little late that night. My little contribution to be one less person yelling into their cellphone in restaurants.
  • by raytracer ( 51035 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#7867923)

    It usually involves me yelling at the top of my voice. I envy those who have a house so large that my voice does not provide adequate coverage.

  • by neostorm ( 462848 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#7867928)
    This definitely breaks down personal time between my Girlfriend and I. We share a 1 bedroom apartment, and everyday she and I go our seperate ways to work. While working we usually chat back and forth constantly about current events, what that nights plans are, etc. But I've found over the last several years that when we both arrive home together that evening, there's nothing left to talk about.

    It hasn't really damaged our relationship at all, which is nice to know, but it does says something for instant communication while apart.

    • Have sex then when your not talking...

      Not like your keeping her around for her 'fab' shoe collection are you?
    • by Selecter ( 677480 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:52PM (#7868021)
      Maybe you should step away from the IM for a bit, and are you sure she feels the same way about it that you do? Women are quite a bit less inclined to want to communicate through a device. They crave one on one personal interaction and I dont think going thru IM counts. Maybe you have a exception there, but I bet she misses curling up on the couch with you and talking about things. When you get home and there's nothing left to talk about, I think it says you're spending too much time connected to each other. Smothering your wife is just as bad as ignoring her, I think. The trick is balancing everything. Why dont you ask her tonight straight up if she misses those days where you would sit down and catch up with each other? Bet she will surprise you.
  • by bryanp ( 160522 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#7867929)
    Put the mouse down.

    Step away from the keyboard and nobody gets hurt.

    Now go out and interact with people. They're in the same friggin house with you fer chrissakes.

    • hey man, don't knock it til you've tried it. I think that IMing in my house encourages little interactions that wouldn't happen otherwise. My dad will link me to some news story or something while I am doing homework whereas he wouldn't have bothered to interrupt me if he had to print it out and bring it to my room.
  • by jasonbowen ( 683345 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:42PM (#7867931)
    Is it so big that you can't just call out or walk for 10-15 seconds to talk to somebody? I've used IM clients to have a silent conversation in a crowded room before but not for regular communication at home.
    • by rifter ( 147452 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @07:05PM (#7869386) Homepage

      Is it so big that you can't just call out or walk for 10-15 seconds to talk to somebody? I've used IM clients to have a silent conversation in a crowded room before but not for regular communication at home.

      I had no idea what fucking luddites you slashdotters are. Do you have any idea what technology is for at all? The point is if I am working upstairs it is damned inefficient to walk all the way downstairs, stop waht I am doing, interrupt someone else, and stop what they are doing, just so I can ask them a one sentence question. It is stupid and unnecessary thanks to technology.

      We are not talking about ending family communication. That happened decades ago. We are talking about making it possible again. Families are busy, dispersed, and engaged in all sorts of distracting tasks. There are few chances for familial communication especially with the death first of nightly gatherings for reading and prayer and second with the death of the family dinner.

      I am not saying an effort to revive such practices is misguided, but what if you could talk to your family while doing other things? That is what instant messaging was invented for. It is there so you can talk to multiple people at once while coding, posting to slashdot, writing the great american novel, doing your homework, balancing the budget, or whatever it is you are doing on your computer. It means you can talk to the rest of the family and ask simple questions and make decisions together.

      Now that the rest of the family have computers, pdas, cell phones and such it is especially spiffy because you can text message and talk to your kids and family members to keep tabs on what they are doing and coordinate that family dinner that died so long ago for lack of coordination and communication.

      Also, the internet and instant messaging are great for people who do not live with their families. I communicate with the wired members of my family much more often simply because they are available to me. If you are back in the 19th century sending paper letters through snail mail you get much less communication.

  • by willith ( 218835 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:42PM (#7867933) Homepage
    HotMamma24242: hay guys wut up its dinnr time
    LittleBro33: cool
    OlderSis53137: i dont lik 2 eat im 2 fat
    DadInCharge98324: shut it oldersis youl eat wut ur mom telz u 2 eat and like it 2 lol
    LittleBro33: lolololol haha u got n trubl
    OlderSis53137: shut up il run aimnuke on u
    *LittleBro33 has disconnected
    HotMamma24242: its not nice to aimnuke ur brothr
    DadInCharge98324: ur gonna get a spankin
    OlderSis53137: no1 n this famly understands me i h8 u all
    HotMamma24242: but i made teriaki chikn
  • by zoobaby ( 583075 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:42PM (#7867934)
    This is ridiculous. Just physically walk into the room they are in and ask them "What do you want for dinner?" Are people becoming so lazy and scared of others (including family) that they can only communicate via IM, cell phones, email...ect.

    Trust me the small walk from room to room, will not affect your pear like body shape.
  • I think it helps protect 'personal time.' My father can IM me something and I can dismiss him in a few keystrokes rather than having to chase him out of my room. My brother tends to ask me for help with homework via IM so I can point him in the right direction or go to physically help depending on the problem.

    In addition, when I travel, and for when I head off to college next year, it is much easier to send a quick IM rather than make a phone call.

  • I use IM with my brother all the time. The thing is, he's in on the top floor and I'm 2 floors below in the basement.

    So at night whichever one of us goes to bed first send the other an IM saying to please manage the internet connection. This means that when the other one of us goes to bed, we start up my sister's kazaa or shut down the gateway computer. (We are still on dialup, there's no broadband out here.)

    It gets funny because sometimes I live in other cities for work purposes, but sometimes he st

  • Big Deal (Score:3, Interesting)

    by weave ( 48069 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:43PM (#7867947) Journal
    It beats hollering around the house.

    I often get calls on my cell phone from my wife at the other end of the house. At least people are communicating. When I was a kid, my mother would do anything just to get a few words out of me. She would have loved all of these new communication devices.

    Maybe for those living in a trailer or shoebox, this concept is hard to understand! :)

  • by CelticWhisper ( 601755 ) <celticwhisper@gmail.cPARISom minus city> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:43PM (#7867951)
    Well, I don't know about you, but in my experience I...oh, dammit! Hang on, my kid just IMed me, he needs help with his homework. I'll finish this later. To the living room I go...
  • Ha ha ha (Score:5, Insightful)

    by be-fan ( 61476 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:44PM (#7867957)
    I'm AIM'ing my brother right now from my laptop. Its actually really nice, since if you see a cool website, you can just send a link, instead of running upstairs and showing it to him on his computer.

    What IM is really useful for, however, is keeping in touch with people long-distance. IM has a relaxed, conversational quality that you can't get from a phone call. With the phone, there is pressure to finish the call quickly, and it is something that you do on special occasions. With IM, you can just say hi, or share a random funny thought, without wasting anyone's time.
    • Re:Ha ha ha (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Radish03 ( 248960 )

      What IM is really useful for, however, is keeping in touch with people long-distance. IM has a relaxed, conversational quality that you can't get from a phone call. With the phone, there is pressure to finish the call quickly, and it is something that you do on special occasions. With IM, you can just say hi, or share a random funny thought, without wasting anyone's time.

      While I do agree with you about the phone, I've found that while away at college IM has become a sort of annoyance. It pretty much allow

  • the constant screaming across the house where i grew up! :)
  • by ethanms ( 319039 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:46PM (#7867973)
    hearing the "BLAH BLAH BLAH!"... "WHAT?"... "BLAAHH BLLAAAHH BLAAAHHH!!"... "WHAT?"... thankfully it's just me and 1 other at home, so I only deal with that at the family's...

    I use it work to talk to people in the next cube over... because it cuts down on voice-noise at work, it allows me to be at my PC and doing other things while someone else's brain churns to come up with thoughts... It also offers some privacy against cube-snoopers who sit and listen to other people's conversations... of course IM is clear text so it's usually just idle jabber... anything more classified requires a trip to Chotchkie's for coffee
  • by fleener ( 140714 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:46PM (#7867976)
    The family household is first, and foremost, the place you learn and strengthen your communication skills. I'm sure 10 years from now we'll know all the CONs of diverting most of our face-to-face communication to instant messaging. It will surely strain all form of communication, from retail customer service to inter-office discussions. We already bitch about working in cubicles. Now we want to make our childrens' rooms cubicles too? How utterly sad.
  • by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:46PM (#7867977) Journal
    I use instant messaging with some of my extended family members. It's a great way of staying in touch. The only excuse for instant messaging someone in your own household, however, is if you do not possess muscle control over your legs. I mean, good god. Walk down the hallway and get a little excercise at least. That much laziness and your computer chair will give you bed sores.
  • Real people! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BlndBoy ( 303676 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:47PM (#7867981)
    Ok, enough is enough. I can't believe there are professionals in this world that think this is a GOOD thing. I regularly stop IM conversations with a phrase like - "Shouldn't this be a phone/face-to-face conversation?" The text medium simply leaves too much room for misunderstanding.

    Families need to learn to DEAL with eachother, and having your body language and voice inflection sheilded sure as hell isn't going to help.

    Kids these days. (I'm 22, and I get scared.)
  • Jabber (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frohike ( 32045 ) <bard.allusion@net> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:47PM (#7867986) Homepage

    My wife and I use this because we have a basement that's separate from the upstairs of the house (you have to walk outside and back in). Her office is down there, mine is up here, so it's a bit of a pain to talk back and forth.

    We also had AIM reliability issues (and I dislike the unencrypted chatter going out and back in) so I set up Jabber on our server here. Works great -- even when the cable modem goes out it's still there. No one else snooping in on the conversations, etc. Also Gaim works with Jabber now (if somewhat buggily) so you don't need to switch clients or anything to add it.

  • by gabeman-o ( 325552 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:50PM (#7868009)
    One reason that I don't talk to my family (other than my brother) on AIM is that I sometimes have things in my away messages and my profile that I don't necessarily want them to see. For example, I don't want them to read my away message saying that I'm at a party at 3am on a school night (the reason that they wouldn't know is that I go to school 3 hours and a few states away). I do, however, use iChat AV and my iSight to videoconference with my family.
  • by Pfhreakaz0id ( 82141 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:51PM (#7868015)
    you obviously don't have a baby. when you are in bed with sleeping baby next to you on the wireless laptop and wife is working in the home office, IM is a godsend.

    screaming=kid wakes up = your 20 minutes of private time today is over!
  • No Downfalls?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ticklemeozmo ( 595926 ) <justin,j,novack&acm,org> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:51PM (#7868016) Homepage Journal
    I've just been reading the past 30+ comments, and no one seems to think that this is a problem!!

    Sure, for the teen geeks out there who like a lil privacy (I don't mean like thaT.. well, maybe I guess I do) this is OK for. But for a family to be a family this sure does pose major problems?

    A poster a few messages up claimed his wife and him have nothing to talk about when they get home after talking all day. What about for the parent and child who would rather IM while around the house. Doesn't prolonged exposure to this make the child more unwilling to talk to his/her parent face-to-face about sex/drugs/abuse??

    I know I tried my damnedest to remain an reclusive troll around my house, but thankfully my parents were active in my life and always asked questions. Hindsight being what it is, I'm glad we came to a good balance between privacy and parenting! That sort of thing requires you to LOOK at your parents and FACE your problems/fears.. not hitting "Block" or "Exit".

    I know I have a point here, and I'm trying to find it.
    • Re:No Downfalls?? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slack3r78 ( 596506 )
      To be honest, if a kid's not willing to talk to his parents, that's not going to change much - better or worse because of IM. It's purely anecdotal, but speaking for myself, I know that I don't exactly have the best relationship with either of my parents and that IM wouldn't have changed that one way or another. I simply have no desire to really talk to them, IM or otherwise - it comes down to a matter of personality more so than it does medium.

      On the other hand, I'd say it's had a positive impact in other

    • What about for the parent and child who would rather IM while around the house. Doesn't prolonged exposure to this make the child more unwilling to talk to his/her parent face-to-face about sex/drugs/abuse??

      I know I tried my damnedest to remain an reclusive troll around my house, but thankfully my parents were active in my life and always asked questions. Hindsight being what it is, I'm glad we came to a good balance between privacy and parenting! That sort of thing requires you to LOOK at your parents an
  • by ByteHog ( 247706 ) <chris@NoSPAm.bytehog.com> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:52PM (#7868020) Homepage
    For example: me, my brother, my mom and my dad all live in different cities. We keep in touch via IM.
  • irony... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevin lyda ( 4803 ) * on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:53PM (#7868028) Homepage
    so families are using a new communication tool to, um, communicate, and people are asking if this is reducing communication within families?

    is im or email or irc or phone or letter or videophone or telegraph the same as talking face to face? no, they're all different. and none are best, certain circumstances lend themselves better to certain methods. some people find letters a better method of telling family members bad news. i like people to email me info like addresses, phone numbers or email addresses. irc is a nice supplement to conference calls as it lets taking minutes be distributed.

    but i supposed change always sees this. "oh no, it's different, it must be BAAAAD!"

  • IM me u2 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Llama King ( 187264 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:54PM (#7868038)
    We're a 2-parent, 2-kid family. Most of our computers are in one room, a kind of in-home NOC. Often all 4 of us are in this room, on the computers, and often all on IM. There we sit, our backs to each other, and sometimes rather than talk we'll all IM each other. We all admit it's pretty pathetic and pretty weird, but dammit, we like it that way.

  • ALL the time! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zippity8 ( 446412 )
    Try living in a student house with 8 or so people in it.

    Back in the day, we'd end up using IM more frequently than we'd actually go in and talk to each other. Not only was it more convenient, it also let us respond after studying, when we got home, or whatever. With the schedules so different, it was just easier than getting up, banging on the door, then going back and messaging them later on.

    But then again, the best way to get each other's attention was to crank up Quake....
  • After one particularly late night of studying in college 3 years ago, my roomate, a friend, and I started cursing at each other over AIM in our tiny freshman dorm room. It was memorable as one of those "everything is funny because you're tired" nights.

    These days, AIM is useful in finding out if somebody is in their apartment before going down the hall to visit.
  • by mrpuffypants ( 444598 ) * <`mrpuffypants' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @02:55PM (#7868043)
    Dad: What? You won't eat your vegetables?
    Kid: Nope. They're gross.
    Dad: (Goes to computer) +b #tvroom
  • by Cat_Byte ( 621676 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:00PM (#7868072) Journal
    I worked at a .com during the boom and the entire company had ICQ installed. It was SO much better than playing phone tag. Hell if someone was on the phone you could pop-up msg them saying who was on the line wanting to talk to them. Or if I was on the phone I could still keep taking care of business via ICQ.
    For the home I think it's just silly or at the least, lazy. The only time I've ever used it room to room in the home was joking around. "It's 10pm. Do youk now what your son is doing behind your back?"
  • IM in the house ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nsebban ( 513339 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:01PM (#7868079) Homepage
    Wow, man I think my geek-o-meter just melt while I was reading this post. And I had to shut down my weird-o-meter to prevent it from melting as well.

    Well, I like IM, I use it every day with. But when I'm a few meters away from the person I'm chatting with, I discovered that opening my mouth to talk was much better. You should do the same, and you'll see that real-life communication with people (especially family) is a nice thing.
  • Communications (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yo Grark ( 465041 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:13PM (#7868139)
    Just as typing for 20+ years has KILLED my penmanship (Penpersonship?) using IM intra-family is the equivalance to emailing the guy in the cubicle next to you.

    It will lead to a break-down in communication.

    For example, growing up, I had 4 flights of stairs to travel to get to my main family's floor. I occupied the basement. I got tired of going up and down the stairs and decided to install an intercom. Even less reason to interact with my family I soon became the "hermit".

    Kids need to go outdoors, interact with PEOPLE not just for their own good, but for the good of the human race's future communicative skillz!

    Yes I know I put a z.
  • by Jubii ( 315611 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:17PM (#7868155) Homepage
    Can Slashdotters offer some personal experience, pro/con, with being instantly and constantly accessible to one's spouse and children? Does this tend to break down your 'personal time'?

    No more than having a cell phone on your hip when you go to the toilet:

    "Hello?! Uh... I'm busy... Doing... stuff. Nevermind that sound, what do you want!!?"

    Sheesh, that's the worst.
  • Problem: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:20PM (#7868171) Homepage
    kewlkid: okay baby i'm taking off ur pantz...
    gran1922: okay
    kewkid: fuck i thought you were melissa. sorry gran
    gran: dont stop...!
  • Damn! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vrioux ( 723563 )
    Whoa, I wonder what it's gonna be in a few years... Instead of your citizen ID, your primary identification record will be your Microsoft Passport? Damn... I don't understand people. Do you like virtual sunsets or do you prefer being there. I am a network admin but the thing I cherish most in my life is nature itself. I do use IMs at work to answer short questions from collegues, but at home, I talk with my wife and children. We play games, we take a walk, we cook dinner together, we go on a car ride
  • Images of that annoying Sprint guy kept coming to mind, but it's really very appropriate given the typical lack of ability of parent and teen to communicate with each other.

    This idea could be turned into a neat commercial wherein you see parent and child finally having a "dialog" without rolling their eyes behind each others backs.
  • Can Slashdotters offer some personal experience, pro/con, with being instantly and constantly accessible to one's spouse and children? Does this tend to break down your 'personal time'?"

    IM me and I'll tell you.
  • by agwis ( 690872 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:23PM (#7868199)
    Here is a typical day for me when I have to work at a client's office:

    wife> you'll never guess who called
    me> can it wait? I'm working here.
    wife> oh it'll just take a sec...
    wife> blah blah blah
    me> *insert random emoticons to make it appear that I am actually paying attention*
    wife> ok, so when will you be home?
    me> soon, I just got to finish this one last thing...which I will get done as soon as we quit talking.
    wife> ok bye

    * a couple of minutes pass *

    wife> guess what happened on *insert dumb soap opera here*

    and so on. Once I put her on my blocked list but she figured that out and really got pissed.

    I'm reading this topic with much interest and interested on how other people deal with IM. I like it and hate it at the same time!


  • IM to SMS (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dethkultur ( 617989 )
    I use this all the time with my girlfriend... MSN, AIM, and YIM all have SMS gateways to their IM networks. Personally, I like MSNs the best (doesn't require a seperate sign in from SMS if you tie it to your regular IM account.)

    Lots of pros, pretty much combines the pros of IM (instant, and already integrated with your buddy list) with SMS (can get it anywhere). No cons yet though I can see plenty if your SO is the kind that uses it as a new anger communication channel.

    The meal coordination stories are

  • If for no other reason than you might catch him doing something he's not supposed to be doing. I know that, as a child, I was terrified of doing something I wasn't supposed to be doing because my mom/dad could wander into my room at any moment.

    As if the threat of going blind wasn't enough... ;)
  • We have a DECT phone in each room - If I want to ask my other half somthin, I just phone her! - two key presses on the phone handset, is much easier than spending a good 20 seconds activating IM, and sending her a message (assuming that she even has her PC on at that time)!

  • by Googol ( 63685 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:35PM (#7868267)

    I asked my daughter why she preferred IM to the old teenage standby -- hours on the phone. The answer surprised me. She could see who was online.

    From her perspective it solved two problems

    1. You knew in advance who was available to talk (lowered chance of rejection).

    2. It avoided the unpleasant experience of having to mediate access through a parent ("he's not in", "he can't come to the phone", "he's been grounded and can't talk"). This is actually a variant of #1.

    So it's all about saving face and managing rejection. IM provides lots of strategies and aids to do just that.

    Given that it solves or mitigates two teenage problems (potential rejection by absence or parent, and parental control), I predict the first cellphone company to implement a usable buddy list wins.
  • by NtroP ( 649992 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:42PM (#7868315)
    I have a rather large house (2 story, 6 bedroom, 4 bathrooms) and it is neither practical, nor possible to yell (12" walls are pretty good sound proofing and my wife works nights and is asleep during the day). We have a wireless network and each family member has their own computer with IM installed, but IM can't wake them up or get them from the other room and sometimes they actually (gasp) have their computers off. Instead we have a 6-set wireless phone system and each person has an id that can be paged. This works well for calling people for dinner or waking them up for school.

    It does seem strange though especially to visitors. My mother-in-law spent Christmas with us for the first time and seemd to have a bit of difficulty accepting the "impersonalness" of paging your kids. I felt funny about it too until I realized that I actaully communicate with them MORE than if I had to get my lazy ass up, walk all the way across the house, down the stairs and to their bedrooms to ask them a quick question. Besides, I'm generally calling them to come to me (for dinner or to talk face-to-face) so by paging them it actually see them sooner.

    I think it is the sign of the times. When new technologies come out there are the early adopters who try to use it in every way imaginable - they "work out the bugs". If the use is truly usefull it will survive. If not it will decline, eventually settling into an equilibrium between "coolness" and effectiveness. for my personal situation IM is NOT effective so it was replaced with slightly older (paging) technology.

    We recently got the last of my extended family off windows (and on to OS X) which gave us all the ability to use iChatAV. At first it was cool and new, but then it became a pain. Just because my "buddy list" claimed my sister was on didn't mean she was - it usually was one of her kids or she was outside and she'd see a stack of connections when she'd get back in. Thinking it was important she'd try to IM me only to find me not at my computer so she'd call me long distance only to find out I didn't really have much to say except "Hi".

    Half the time I had my iChat activated I was actually "in-and-out" of the room and when I got a call I had to stay by the computer to talk and I was unproductive. So I started setting my iChat to offline or busy and eventually just turned it off when I didn't want to be interrupted. Pretty soon everyone started doing that. I have iChat on right now and NO ONE ELSE IS THERE - not even my kids - and I know they are online because my cablemodem's blinkenlights are going nuts and I'm just typing this.

    I think every generation will use new technology in such a way that will dismay the older generation. Heck, I recall reading that blackboards were hailed as the worst thing possible for schools (because students would be looking at it instead of the teacher) when they first came out. Technology changes much and society will change with it. I have to admit that with my wife working nights the kids and I, more often than not, have dinner together around the "magic-expando" coffe table in front of the TV than around our dining room table. My mother would have a fit! All our meals were around a formal table when I was a kid.

    Change is the only constant in the universe. And when things change too far in one direction the pendulum always swings back. I NEVER write snail mail any more - but I communicate with my parents (they live in southern Mexico, I live in Alaska) way more now via email than I ever did by snail mail. At first, my mother missed the "hand-written" letters, but now much prefers the quick reliability of email.

    There may come a day when students sit at home in front of a "hollow-teacher" instead of in a classroom and people will lament the loss of social interaction. But I know one thing: If physical contact is truly important to human developement we will get it one way or another. If not, our society will evolve into one where socialization will occure "virtuall

  • Occasionally (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @03:43PM (#7868318) Journal
    We occasionally use AIM here for things like that; everyone here has their own computer (or three in my case: gotta have the Linux desktop, Windows laptop, and a caching DNS server since your ISP's sucks) and at least one screenname (or 20+ if you're really pathetic... *cough*) on AIM.

    What happens more often is that someone'll call me on my cell phone from the cordless phone in the kitchen to let me know it's dinner, since there isn't a computer it in the kitchen. Yet. (We're due for a cell phone upgrade, really. Maybe it's time for phones with AIM.)

    I never realized until now how pathetic I am... I should e-mail a memo to my family suggesting that we occasionally talk to each other in person.
  • by mrv ( 20506 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:05PM (#7868449) Homepage
    My husband and I often work long or odd hours, or other committments will have us coming and going, but we usually have access to a computer while at work, besides what we have at home.

    It's very easy to chat about the day (vent frustrations, really, or the question of what's for dinner and who's picking it up, etc.) while it is happening or we have a free moment. There are days that if we see each other, one of us might be sleeping, so we may not get to chat at home for a few days in a row, but through email and IM we can still communicate ("don't wait up for me" - "dinner is on your own", etc.)

    If it weren't for IM, I'd fear that we wouldn't get to talk very often or know what's going on in each other's lives. But since we're usually both wired, we can still communicate even when we're not in the same physical place.
  • by Uggy ( 99326 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:15PM (#7868500) Homepage

    True Story

    With technology has come a multitude of conveniences, time savers, and capabilities of which our primitive ancestors could never have conceived. Take for example, the instant message. It is instantaneous, travels at the speed of light to its intended recipient, delivering important potentially critical information at the click of a button. It can be sent across the world, around the block, or to the next room.

    Laura at 15:01:18: Jaimito is poopie

    Jim at 15:01:43: Roger, I'll change him.

    Toxic waste disposal emergencies such as the one above could have not been addressed with such efficiency before the days of IM. Thank the Lord!

  • by 1iar_parad0x ( 676662 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:19PM (#7868523)
    The only problem I see with this sudden increase in instant communication is the eventual rise of linguistic entropy. Have you ever read an old collection of letters? I remember being impressed at some of the letters foot soldiers in the Civil War wrote to their families. Even moderately educated people seemed to write very well. I'm sure I sound like an old fogey, and that's okay. I also understand that language is an evolving thing. However, I think we are slowly degrading our language much in the same way instant mass media has eroded our art.
  • And it's not stupid, and it's actually helpful.

    When we're both concentrating on whatever project that we're cooperating on, being able to send messages asynchronously to each other is fantastic as we can send replies to each other when we've finished a section of work.

    Think of it as computer-assisted cooperative multitasking. :)
    • And I send email and IMs to the guy in the next cube over all the time, for two simple reasons:

      a) Email, because there's no reason for me to try to verbally explain a problem when I can just send the original report, with all the details, over for his review


      b) IM because there are just some things that shouldn't be shouted in a corporate environment, even though I'm already known by my coworkers for loud strings of four-letter expletives, especially when dealing with the marketing, revenue, or legal
  • Reverse (Score:3, Informative)

    by red floyd ( 220712 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:20PM (#7868529)
    I use it when I need to get through to my daughter from work. Typical teenager, she has a phone glued to one ear and her KB stuck on AIM. So I IM her and tell her to hang up, I (or her Mom) needs to talk to her.
  • by annielaurie ( 257735 ) <<annekmadison> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:30PM (#7868572) Journal
    I can't imagine anything worse than that kind of "Instant access."

    I work at home and am online most of the time, but I use my IM particularly to stay in touch with a group of people who belong to the same Yahoo Group and who share a mutual interest in writing. It's the perfect gathering spot; when you fire up your YM, people in the group know you're "at home" as the old-fashioned term once ran, and ready to receive visitors. We use it to hold a weekly hour-long conference, too--sometimes inviting "guest speakers." Works quite well.

    My spouse, kids, and Aged Parent can get me in a million different ways--there's the phone, e-mail, or a simple HEY, MA yelled upstairs. I prefer to keep the messaging to a civilized minimum and to have it on my own terms.

  • Judgemental Posts (Score:5, Informative)

    by TimTheFoolMan ( 656432 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:34PM (#7868594) Homepage Journal
    So far, I've seen over a dozen posts suggesting that me chatting with my teenage sons are: an example of the breakdown of the modern family, an indication that we're a bunch of lazy geeks, or a sign that we need to go out and socialize. It's interesting to see these judgements, as they all assume that you know me or my family.

    Yes, my oldest son and I IM each other when we're in the same house. We have even IM'd each other when in the same room. Typically, we both had parallel conversations going on with other people online, and also were talking "face to face" along with the IMs. Oddly enough, many of the posters in this thread don't seem to realize that some things are simply more funny when written than when spoken, and if both parties are reasonably good typists, the conversations can flow quite freely.

    Also, there are some conversations that are awkward or uncomfortable to have in person. One of the reasons that lonely people use IM to establish new relationships is because of the comfort and anonymity of the medium. This can also be beneficial to people who know each other well, if there's an awkward subject that you want to discuss.

    Recently, my son and I were discussing an article on the NY Times (I'm one of those weirdos who doesn't mind that they know I read their articles) about teenage sexuality, and the incidence of intercourse falling in the past couple of years. Now, this would be a bit of an odd conversation to have with your dad at any point, but especially when you're a teenage boy, currently in a dating relationship. Because of the medium, I was able to cast my question in a non-threatening way, and he was able to compose his response without me watching his expression, or second-guessing his body language.

    Last but not least, I correct his grammar and spelling, and encourage him to learn to express himself with the written word. IM seems to be as good a place for immediate feedback and correction as any.

    In short, before you assume that families chatting is another sign of impending doom, please be a bit more informed.


    P.S. WRT us being a bunch of lazy geeks, he's 15, playing JV & Varsity basketball and football, and we regularly compare weightlifting routines. He regularly challenges me (typically by throwing a cross-body block in the kitchen), and is looking forward to the day (not far off) when he can "take dad down." Unfortunately for my wife, he weighs 190 lbs, and I weigh 230, so when we wrestle, things usually get broken. I'm no stud, but it's not like we sit around on our butts all day in front of the PC.
  • by serenarae ( 154753 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @04:50PM (#7868683) Journal
    My entire family (all five of us) have had aim accounts since '99. My mom uses it at work to message us at home and we use it at home to message each other throughout the house rather than yelling (it pisses dad off). All in all, it's made our life a little quieter and peaceful. Downside is, you have a better chance of talking to someone on AIM than in person around here. Eh, welcome to the digital revolution I guess...
  • by PhotoGuy ( 189467 ) on Saturday January 03, 2004 @08:32PM (#7869825) Homepage
    Surprised that no one has mentioned this

    In the case of a high conflict divorce with children involved, IM'ing can be a relatively low conflict way, for the children to keep in touch with the parent they're not currently with at a given time. (In many cases, the children feel on the spot if they're on the phone with one parent while within earshot of the other.)

  • by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug AT opengeek DOT org> on Sunday January 04, 2004 @01:21AM (#7870977) Homepage Journal
    because our house is small, so voice works just fine. However, I do IM from work. My kids will ask when I am getting home, help with homework questions, and deliver the wife's to-do list. (Hate that last one...)

    Anyway, it's pretty cool in that my kids know they can reach me before the early evening hours. I also know they are home :)

    IM in the house seems really silly to me, but maybe some folks like the quiet...

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama