Jul 15, 2019 in Sociology

With the course of time every phenomenon has a tendency to change slightly. Family is no exclusion. Being at the center of social life family is constantly experiencing some new influences which sometimes are perceived as attacks. In her book “The Accordion Family,” Katherin S. Newman explores a new situation for American family – the phenomenon of “accordion families” when adult children do not leave the home of their fathers but stay and even invite their girlfriends and boyfriends stretching their parents hospitality. Another rising trend is the growing infatuation with digital media that create virtual spaces for every family member in the same premise, reports Alex Williams in his 2011 article “Quality Time, Redefined” for The New York Times. Although these new tendencies seem horrific steps from a traditionally-valued free time spent together even, they are not are awful as people like to think, because psychologists claim that these changes can be successfully accepted, similarly to the situation when books had just become widespread and people were equally horrified at their family members nuzzling each their own edition instead of joining a conversation. 

 

According to Newman’s “The Accordion Family,” the economic situation and global competition are responsible for the growing trend of young people living with their parents well into 20s and 30s. As the globalization has become more and more competitive, it leads to a wide-spread situation when many young people are unable to afford themselves living on their own. It is more difficult to find a well-paid job after graduation and they are forced to return back home to ask their parents or any other family members for financial support in the form of a rent-free room. Worse yet, some young people do not even have a thought to go out for work because the reality seems too frightful and horrible to them. At the same time, going back to live with their parents could be a great chance for young people to figure out what they would like to do with their life. William Rollo, one of the interviewees of Newman’s, said that he is willing to financially support his sons until they are truly content with their life choices.

 

Although living with parents are often regarded as a stigma in the American culture, young people recently use this variant more and more. On the other hand, the function of accordion family can be seen as opportunity given young people by their parents to get prepared for the global competition. This way, they are able to expand their knowledge by going to school, widen their horizons by travelling around the world, acquire job experience by doing part-time, and enrich their social life by hanging out with friends without financial strain. Those great opportunities provided by parents definitely could assist young people build a better life than their parents used to have in the competitive world. In addition, some young people act as decision maker in their family. Newman reports Elaine Mark’s words: “I always went home when I was at a certain point and needing to make a decision for my next point in my own family.” At this point, not only children benefit from the concept of accordion family, but the whole group, their family, benefit as well. 

 

Accordion family can serve as an explanation for the reason why young people cannot find a job and make enough money for themselves to support themselves. The Newman’s book prompted me to think that there are three reasons why grownup children from accordion families are incapable of standing firmly on their feet. First, parents are likely to overly spoil and control their children. “‘Helicopter parents’, who hovered over their progeny, following them off to college to help choose their courses, tending to their every need, were said to lack of backbone to let their children grow up by learning from their failures”. It results in the second reason that children from accordion family have difficulty to become independent. They used to have their parents arrange everything in their life; therefore, they lose the function of finding themselves in society. They even cannot overcome the stress of international competition alone without the company of parents. Third, it causes delay in the development of adulthood. Adulthood is the stage of people to become fully independent from parents. Therefore, it might be hard for children from accordion family to become fully independent from their parents because they constantly rely on financial supports from them. Thus, it can be seen that the concept of accordion family has both advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the familial situation and an individual’s personality, accordion family can be either an answer or a curse. 

 

While living with parents appeals to young people’s dependent side, digital gizmos appeal to an inner child in every one. In his article “Quality Time, Redefined,” Alex Williams vividly describes a scene that become more and more familiar in American families when all family members are physically in the same room but each is  busy with their own virtual world respectively. The picture seems horrible. Mind cries that addiction to technology brings negative impact on the development of young people’s mindset. The majority of U.S. families own technology product such as iPod, iPad, or Macbook. Nowadays, “51% of U.S households own at least one Apple product”. Although technology becomes more reachable and affordable, overuse of technology products might lengthen the distance between family members, or it might leads youths to addiction to virtual reality. However, as with many phenomena, technology products have both advantages and disadvantages.

 

It has become more common for people to use social media to communicate with friends or meet new people. The communication skills seem becoming not as important as they used to be. Nowadays people contact people through messages and emails rather than meeting personally or over the phone. Even a group of related people, such as family, who live in the same house, sit on the same sofa or eat at the same table, sometimes do not bother to talk to each other. Overly texting, to the damage of talking, has been found as negative impact on the youth’s mind development. “Developmental psychologists studying the impact of texting worry especially about young people, not just because kids are such promiscuous users of the technology, but because their interpersonal skills – such as they are – have not yet fully formed”. Having a conversation is an ability to learn how to think and reason and also self-reflect on things. Overly relying on technology would be less functional for working with others and communicating with other people. Worse yet, young children might get phobic of face-to-face interaction with other people.

 

In the previous paragraphs, I have discussed the advantages and disadvantages of accordion family. I also have mentioned impacts of technology on youth. Now is time to discuss how technology could be affecting a rising number of accordion families. I believe that most children enjoy playing video games and online games. They would be willing to sacrifice the time of having a meal for playing either video games or online activities. They would also be happy to stay at home watching TV series for the whole day. “A 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that youth aged 8 to 18 devote seven-and-a-half hours a day to entertainment media”. Based on this survey, addiction to entertainment media could be a reason behind the youth becoming less competitive in the face of globalization. Consequently, when young people reach the adulthood age, they are not able yet to make enough money to support themselves. Worse yet, some young people might become too lazy to fight for real life. They could not find any interests other than entertainment media. On the other hand, some of parents overly spoil their kids because they want their kids to grow up happily, unlike them who had harsher lives. They usually do not restrict their children’s screen time being and young people waste their time being immersed in video games or other entertainment media. Over time, young people are interested in nothing other than video games. Therefore, again, when they grow up to the young adult stage, they return back to their parents because of their inability to stand firmly on their feet in the financial sense. 

 

In my opinion, accordion family could be both good and bad to young people as well as technology. The way the family influences young people depends on each family’s background and situation. The way young people use technology products is determined by whether electronic media produce good or bad influence. I believe that entertainment media such as video game and online game definitely give negative effects to young people because, instead of spending most of their time on studying, communicating, and exercising, they waste it sitting on the sofa and playing video games. I do not know what other parents are thinking, but I know that my parents would kick me out of my house if I behaved in this manner. In addition, based on my personal experience, I am thankful for living in accordion family. Why? I am an international student who currently lives here alone. After I graduated from college in my country, I was not content with my degree. I wanted to enrich my personal experience and find out what I really want to do with my life. Surprisingly, my parents agreed to give me a chance without a second thought. However, I know they have high expectations of me. So far, I have been studying here for two years. Without my parents’ financial support, it would never be possible for me to have an opportunity to study here. They support my living costs and tuition fee without any qualms. In the beginning, I thought about giving up because I did not know English very well at that time. But, on the one hand, I did not want to disappoint my parents. I had to live up to their expectations. On the other hand, I did not want to waste their money because they are too old to work too much. While being here, I always remind myself to be thankful for everything and be serious on studying and preparing for my future career. My accordion family makes me independent and more mature than I used to be. Thus, again, I believe that accordion family could be both good and bad for different young people. It all depends on how young people decide to use their finacial and moral support from their parents. 

 

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