Family Time Is Now Gadget Time

Kids are texting so much it's literally affecting their health; the President's secret iPad may or may not have a receipt; and today we learned over at the New York Times that families are too busy staring at screens to give a shit about family anymore. Are we beyond hope?

Possibly. Ladies and gents, meet the new modern family, courtesy reporting in the New York Times:

Ms. Vavra, a cosmetics industry executive in Manhattan, looked up from her iPad, where she was catching up on the latest spring looks at Refinery29.com, and noticed that her husband, Michael Combs, was transfixed, streaming the N.C.A.A. men's basketball tournament on his laptop. Their son, Tom, 8, was absorbed by the Wii game Mario Kart on the widescreen television. Their daughter, Eve, 10, was fiddling with a game app called the Love Calculator on an iPod Touch. "The family was in the same room, but not together," Ms. Vavra recalled.

Unfortunately for any Luddites in attendance, this is simply how it is, and will be in the future. The NYT reports that nearly 60% of U.S. families with kids have two or more computers. A further 60% of those families are wired or wireless and have long since jacked into the Internet to consume kitten pictures and hilarious .gifs of other kittens.

Driving the growth, some experts say, is the surge of tablet use (i.e. iPad) and apps (iOS and Android), as well as a cultural acceptance that email and texting might be, at times, a bit more convenient than spoken word. Case in anecdotal, completely depressing point:

Brad Kahn, an environmental consultant in Seattle, said he often communicates with his wife, Erin, by e-mail even when they are seated a few feet apart on the sofa with their laptops. He will cut her off if she starts instructing him orally about what he calls his "honey-do" list of weekend chores, he said, and ask her to send it electronically. To Mr. Kahn, 40, it's simply more efficient. "If I misunderstood any directions, having a written record can be very useful in maintaining marital bliss," he said.

Yikes. Maybe progress isn't so great, after all. What's your story? Has family life changed from one of dinner table conversation to wireless, voiceless multi-screen non-interaction on the sofa, or what? [NYT]