Responses in reaction to the following statement
were assembled from a select group of 1,286 Internet stakeholders
in the fall 2004 Pew Internet & American Life "Experts Survey."
The survey allowed respondents to select from the choices "agree,"
"disagree" or "I challenge" the predictive
statement. Some respondents chose to expand on their answer
to this statement by accepting the invitation to write an explanation
of their position; many did not. Some respondents chose to indentify
themselves with their answer; many did not. We share some -
not all - of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents whose
reactions are listed below are attributed here only for the
purpose of indicating a level of internet expertise; the statements
reflect personal viewpoints and do not represent their companies'
or government agencies' policies or positions. Some answers
have been edited in order to share more respondents' replies.
Below is a selection of the many carefully considered responses
to the following statement:
Prediction on families
By 2014, as telework and home-schooling expand, the boundaries
between work and leisure will diminish significantly. This will
sharply alter everyday family dynamics.
Compiled reactions from the 1,286
56% of internet experts agreed
9% challenged the prediction
18% did not respond
Whoever suggested that homeschooling would increase because
of the Internet, has never stayed at home with a child. The
Venn diagram of telework and home-schooling shows two circles
entirely without connection. - Moira Gunn, Tech Nation
That's already happened. It's all work. Even shopping. -
Douglas Rushkoff, author/New York University Interactive Telecommunications
I guess this will mean there is a
reason for four-person families to be living in all these mini-mansions.
By 2014, they will need the space so they won't kill each other!
- Clare De Cleene, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
[It] already is [altering everyday family dynamics], as Wellman
and NetLab expect to find in their current Connected Lives study.
- Barry Wellman, University of Toronto
I would not be surprised to see a backlash as family dynamics
suffer from the "on, all-the-time, syndrome." - Jan Schaffer,
J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism
I would revise and specify this prediction: By 2014, as convenience
computing brings the internet into more moments and arenas of
everyday life, the boundaries between work and leisure will
diminish significantly. This will increase the power of corporate
interests in determining how people frame the public and private
arenas. This will also cause an overall increase in levels of
stress and fatigue in the general workforce. - A. Markham,
University of the Virgin Islands (previously University of Chicago)
Some of this is already happening: many workers now are "on
duty" 24/7 - responding to emails, alerts, blackberries, and
cell phones, no matter where they may be. For the office, this
may increase productivity. For the home and family, this adds
to stress and strain. But that is because, today, this "extra"
duty usually comes on top of a regular 40-to-50-hour stint in
the office. In the future, it will be possible for people to
do their work from home, from the beach, from the back yard
- and it will be theoretically possible to enhance home and
family that way. Again, it's not the technology that will decide
this; it is our institutions and their rules. - Gary Bachula,
I believe people will learn to understand how their different
identities - (home, work, others) are represented online and
new tools will be developed to help people maintain healthy
boundaries around work and leisure to maximize health. -
Liz Rykert, Meta Strategies Inc.
I could not more strongly agree. I think that we are already
seeing that the greatest change that the internet enables is
a fluidity of task over space. There is a tradition in many
professions (including my own) of flexible workdays and places.
I suspect that this flexibility will increasingly affect all
forms of knowledge work, and this will be felt most acutely
in our social and familial organization. - A. Halavais,
State University of New York at Buffalo
I see it in my family every day. Sure, it is anecdotal evidence,
but it is powerful. - David Tewksbury, University of Illinois
What we need to go along with this trend is a new definition
of quality work - judged by outcome, not by time. Education
needs a similar redefinition. - Christine Geith, Michigan
The boundaries between work and leisure will continue to diminish,
but I don't think they will change much more from where they
are today. Most employers will want most employees on site most
of the time. - Jonathan Band, partner, Morrison & Foerster
LLP (law firm)
This has already happened. Everything is a hobby - half work,
half leisure - it's an unstoppable trend. People forced to be
offline feel spiritless and lonely. We're there. - Susan
Crawford, policy analyst, Center for Democracy & Technology
and a fellow with the Yale Law School Information Society Project
While I think the move toward telework has been slower than
any one expected, the growth of home schooling has been faster.
Every time I speak before the public, most of my questions center
on the impact of these technologies on family life. People are
concerned about and aware of these potential changes. For the
most part, they are very nervous about a world where it is impossible
to escape the office and where they face growing competition
for their children's attention. - Harry Jenkins, MIT
Many Americans (and I am as guilty of this as anyone) work too
much and carry their stress home with them. It will become too
easy for Americans to work and play at the same time, likely
leading to some diminishing of both. - Brian Reich, internet
strategist for Mindshare Interactive
Ten years ago, pundits were fascinated by a formal, official move to
telecommuting -- where offices would close down and people work from
In fact, we have much more flexwork: partial telecommuting where people
take work home for the evening or weekend or stay home "to get work
and to avoid snowstorms (as I am doing today). The result is a contest
attention between family and work, with household members wondering when
the telecommuter will look up from their screens and at them.
Our research suggests that many corporate moves to telecommuting are
driven by a desire to save on real estate costs -- less building space
occupy. On the workers' side, it often stems from a desire to avoid the
stress and time waste of driving to work. - Barry Wellman, University of Toronto
The increase in connectivity between mobile devices will result
in a new family dynamic that will re-expand the notion of family
to include not only geographically displaced extended family
relatives but also unrelated family members. Around-the-clock
connection and automatic sharing of contact information beyond
the immediate family members will foster digital tribes and
a stronger sense of ''family.'' - Scott Moore, Charles and
Helen Schwab Foundation
The web is dramatically changing the way women in my generation
are able to mother and work. The web is providing the tool that
women needed to contribute at home and in the world. - Tiffany
Shlain, Founder, The Webby Awards
My greatest hope is that telework will hit the federal government
in a big way. There's absolutely no need to have those huge
headquarters operations located in Washington, D.C. It's an
expensive place to be, it's a limited applicant pool for jobs,
and it creates a huge ''sitting duck'' for terrorists. Most
of those operations could function beautifully scattered throughout
the country, using workers in their homes and in telework centers,
working virtually. In fact, 3 years ago, I moved from Washington,
D.C., to Tucson, taking my job as departmental web manager at
HUD with me. While there are many struggles - mostly overcoming
people's reluctance to work online - we have proven that this
can work quite successfully. - Candi Harrison, web content
manager, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Work will still be work, and leisure still will be not working.
The places where they happen - especially work - will shift.
It will be possible to move between the two more quickly, but
the people who make work will know this and raise the productivity
bar. It will still be a matter of personal choice whether one
agrees to the work contract offered or not. The real change
will be in the opportunity for individuals (small businesses)
to dictate their own rules. The Internet causes power to disperse,
in this case, to the people from the institutions. Of course
institutions can attract power (the will of the people) but
they must do so under news rules of engagement. - Mike Reilly,
president, Hally Enterprises, Inc.
Many forces already conspire to alter family dynamics. I don't
see this as any more powerful than the divorce rate, single
parents,two-income families, wildly fluctuating economy, rising
gap between rich and poor, etc. - Peter W. Van Ness, Van
This change to family dynamics can be very positive. Just as
writing skills will become as important as they were early in
American history, we can return to the home-centered work environment.
When farms were the center of American life, families were an
integral part of the workday. As we remove boundaries between
work, personal and family life, families can grow closer and
participate more with all aspects of life. This will impact
education as well. Separate school systems and activities all
day remove kids from the day-to-day activities and decisions
about how Mom and Dad actually pay for things. Having them more
involved will change the topics they are interested in and the
perspective they bring to the classroom. - Mike Witherspoon,
Of course, this is already happening for many of us. My work
days begin online at 5:30 a.m.; I am out in the countryside
on my bicycle by 8 a.m.; I am in the office by 10 a.m. both
online and in face-to-face meetings; I am out of the office
by 5 p.m.; and I am back at work online from home at 7 p.m.
I teach my classes online from distant points. This semester
alone, I will have taught classes (engaging students at least
twice a day) while off at week-long conferences in Boston, Chicago,
and Orlando. - Ray Schroeder, University of Illinois
The same segments that are today high-volume consumers and television
and media-centered have already yielded most of their family
dynamics, so this will not likely change for them. Another small
segment that today is not highly-penetrated by media will see
their family dynamics affected. - Dan Ness, MetaFacts
I would agree in that this mirrors our own family life. My wife
and I work as consultants from home and we blend work and kid
time as both require. However, I remember 40-60-hour-a-week
jobs that required me/us to be on site as staff. I really don't
see that changing much at any time in the future. There are
valid reasons tele-commuting has not taken off. What might change
is the ability to see/reach family during work hours in ways
that save time and absenteeism. You might be able to email your
dry cleaner to drop your clothes in a box outside your house.
Or have a little window open on your computer to watch your
kid in daycare. But a lot of this is happening already. -
Tim Slavin, ReachCustomersOnline.com
Home schooling is not going to expand by an order of magnitude,
because most parents don't want to do it, and some of those
that do, can't. So the kids are going to a physical school,
even if they do a bunch of on-line stuff once the get there.
And telework might increase, but in the next decade we're still
going to see most workers leaving their homes to go to work.
They will get some hours or days to work from home, but their
primary workplace will still be an outside location. The boundaries
between work and leisure will be more threatened by the fact
that people use their work-Internet access to do stuff that's
not work. We'll see a major crackdown on how the Internet is
used at work, now that the technology to monitor and block non-work
activities is maturing. - Peter Eckart, Hull House Association
And the following are from predictors who chose to remain
anonymous: [Workplaces of respondents whose reactions are listed
below Harvard University, Internet2, Microsoft, RAND, SnapNames.com,
University of Illinois, University of Michigan, U.S. Administration
on Aging, University of Washington, Morino Institute, University
of California at Berkeley, Media General, Carnegie Mellon, Geekcorps,
University of Minnesota, U.S. Census Bureau, Corporation for
Education Network Initiatives in California, Umbria Communications,
University of Georgia, Brandmarken Communications, Dutch National
Research and Education Network, Resource Interactive, U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development, Center for Rural Strategies
This is already happening. - Anonymous response from dozens
We live in a world that is always on. I think this will be one
of the most devastating consequences of technology.
I agree. I just started working from home and I can't get away.
This will be true for a significant number of people, but only
a tiny fraction of the overall population.
The boundaries between work and leisure have already been erased.
Everyday family dynamics have already been changed.
Computers in the home mean work in the home, and Internet connections
means demand for connection from home. Not a future scenario,
but a current one. Family dynamics will be pushed by this -
but will it be better or worse than the change that put 2 parents
in to the workforce to make ends meet?
Over the next decade, families will need to increase work hours
dramatically in order to keep up their standard of living. We
will have moved from the one-wage-earner family to the two-wage-earner
family to the multiple-wage-earners-with-multiple-jobs family.
As a result, families will be increasingly scheduled, to the
point where a family member will be working almost every hour
of the day.
People work for social interchange. Kids go to school to learn
to get along with their peers.
Already true today. Technology allows work time to expand to
7 days a week.
I believe this prediction is already coming to fruition. A survey
would likely determine that most Americans check their work
email from home. Laptops are packed with golf clubs and snorkels
for family vacations; Blackberries and cell phones are commonplace
on sidelines and in stands.
This is already underway, but the significant difference is
that unlike the disruption it often causes today, people will
better learn to live with and adapt to this seamless world.
As the basic organizing unit of human existence, I think it
will be hard to change family dynamics. But could the diminished
boundaries between work and leisure lead to more people choosing
work that they love?
It's happening. It is 9:39 p.m., and I am at home but I am doing
my work email.
I agree, already few people leave work at work. People regularly
check and respond to e-mail at 10 p.m. The ability to disengage
completely has nearly evaporated.
Most people will discover that they want to get out of the house,
and be involved with peers.
The boundaries between work and leisure have already blurred.
I expect other social forces (e.g., traffic congestion) will
encourage more telework (40% of a workweek), but I don't see
it as a replacement for face-to-face social interactions.
For some, but not for all. For others, it will simply allow
the sweatshop to be moved into the home, and at decreased costs
to the corporation.
No question about this. Major spike coming in "Internet widows/widowers"
The Blackberry is the first wave of this ... people are already
working in meetings, hearings, church, wherever ... After enough
of this, the expectation to show up in the office will diminish
as long as you give good email.
First of all, the effects have already happened. Second, telework
may not expand as much as technology will allow, because there
are advantages to working in physical proximity to others.
I see a growth in work-in-cars as a means of blurring work/commute
and home. It may be that carpooling happens because it provides
people a way to work on the way to work.
The boundaries between work and leisure have already diminished
significantly, and I'm afraid that work is winning out.
It's hard to ever be "home." No excuse for being offline.
Homeschooling does not necessarily equate with technological
uptake, though initial studies suggest that homeschooling families
have a slight edge on non-homeschooling families with respect
to technology adoption. However, the loosening of the traditional
work place will allow for greater freedom for families. I'm
not sure I would say "sharply alter" family dynamics but alter,
The trend is clearly for the rest of the workforce to join the
new lifestyle. Make no mistake: this means more work time and
less leisure time. For people with interesting jobs, this brings
a more fulfilling life. For people with jobs that seem dull
to them, this brings more cubicle misery - only now at home,
I think that's already happened to a startling degree and that
backlash and demand for personal/leisure time will result in
mass turning-off of work connectivity at home.
First thing my sweetheart does in the morning is check his email
on a Blackberry in the bed next to me. I suspect, though maybe
wrongly, that there would be more cuddling were there no Blackberries.
It's already happened in my life and my family. Not just the
Internet, but mobile communication (phones, messaging) and other
technologies for ubiquitous connectivity have this effect. It's
going to be a bumpy road!
The boundaries have already diminished significantly. I think
this will have a profound impact on the life of children.
It's already a problem and it'll only worsen. P.S., I hate my
I agree, but I don't think it will be a negative, just a re-ordering.
For example, the traditional thinking of work Monday thru Friday
8 to 5, which is already largely a thing of the past will continue
to erode. But, the ability to work anywhere at anytime might
in fact allow families to live where they choose without regard
to proximity to work, which would allow for more quality time
to be spent with families. It's already begun and I don't think
it will stop.
As someone who works at home, I can say that this is already
happening. It's a real challenge to segment work time from family
time in an ''always-on'' environment. Ultimately, this creates
the same level of unhealthy distraction as ubiquitous usage
of cell phones. We work too much in this profit-obsessed country,
and unless employers start to trust their remote, home-based
employees and don't constantly check up on them or try to force
them into regular hours, and then demand last-minute work to
be done at night or on the weekend, the telecommuters of the
world might all be early heart attack victims.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this affects how Americans
value work. I'm looking forward to a culture that values leisure
& family time equally, and I think this could be a valuable
I agree that family dynamics may be altered for the digital
elite. But most people, I suspect, will still go to work and
use computers sparingly. Many schools still have a 50 percent
dropout rate. Computers will not change that dramatically.
The Industrial model of home and work divisions is breaking
down, and the cultural lag in recognizing this is creating a
fair amount of stress already. Our current city/suburb infrastructure
is predicated on the traditional division between a home place
and a work place, and technology is bringing about change faster
than cities and suburbs can reorganize their infrastructure.
This means that those individuals in families who must contend
with these changes are having to adapt much more quickly without
the benefit of previous generations' experience and guidance.
They are being forced into the role of teleworking pioneers.
This will get sorted out by 2024 or so, and by 2034 people will
not think twice about it. But we will see a strong generational
gap, just like the gap when the farmworkers moved into the factory,
or post WWII.
As telework expands and invades the personal space, people will
revolt and begin to place boundries. We are already seeing this
trend to some extent amongst the digital elite who are beginning
to appreciate ''unconnectedness."
I agree, but I don't like it. It's hard enough carving out the
hours for family time (leisure); you're suggesting that everything
will overlap. Everyone will have their own schedule, so I guess
quality family time would be like scheduling a meeting with
others that have busy schedules.
On this summer's family vacation, I did work conference calls
on my cell phone while my kids watched a video with headphones
in the back of the van. You can call that a vacation, but it
sure didn't feel like one on some days.
You've got the causes wrong, but the outcome correct. The causes
are wireless personal digital assistants such as Blackberry
and the 'net itself, not telework and home schooling, neither
of which has really caught on.
There is a rise among Gen Xers to be home more with their kids.
I think this will put increasing pressure on employers to allow
telework and alternative schedules. If employers do not respond
I think we will see continued growth in self-employment and
Yes, it's already the case. My daughter and I even send emails
to each other while we are in the same house; she is wirelessly
connected to her laptop and I am on a desktop computer. We like
the asynchronous convenience of this we chose to answer or not,
and have a brief exchange, remind each other of details, set
up rides to events. I find myself losing touch with friends
who do not have email.
I think this will happen sooner and in 10 years we already see
a counter movement. People are fed up by working all the time,
or being interrupted by work during leisure time, so will claim
back the free time and divide between work and leisure. Of course
there are always people that make work out of their hobby and
think their work is their hobby.
The difference between work and leisure will continue to exist.
Family dynamics are already altered for many given the pervasive
use of the internet for chat, use of computers for games, and
DVDs for movies. Working at home has been around for a while.
The federal government says it wants more employees to work
at home, but the reality is that the increase in productivity
expected has not materialized. In private industry some sectors
may increase work at home, but others will not and probably
can not given the nature of their work - be it services or manufacturing.
I imagine that we will no longer ''clock in and clock out''
of work. It will be easier for families to schedule around personal
needs, but it will also be easier for work to insinuate itself
This is either a utopian, or an extraordinarily pessimistic
prediction depending on how you choose to read it. While both
telework and home-schooling are increasingly enabled by online
tools, that doesn't necessarily mean that there is huge pent-up
demand by the broader society for either of these things. There
are simply too many aspects of both work and school that require
face-to-face contact. There are also special personal and interpersonal
skills required to make either one of these things a success.
It takes a special person to offer home-schooling to their child,
or to work from home and maintain healthy relations with remote
colleagues. The internet doesn't change that. These things will
grow, but likely at a modest rate for the foreseeable future.