Mother’s Day Rebooted: Call Your Mother! (Or Text, or Tweet, or Skype)
Mother’s Day — that one day each year in which we try to show love and appreciation for all the things our mothers have done, will do and still do for us 365 days a year. But technology has changed the way we interact with our mothers, and it’s changing the way they will interact with us — even if many of us still have to field calls asking how to work the remote, or Twitter or that nebulous “cloud.” My mom was there for me constantly and consistently through skinned knees and bee stings. She remains a force for good in my life today. As technological innovation pressed onward and my life became increasingly digitized, my mom tagged along. She’s integrated into my life through digital realms — as are so many of my friends — through Facebook, Instagram and iMessage. Through these social portals, my mom has gained a glimpse into my life that mothers in previous generations never had access to. We talk frequently of digital natives and millennials, but almost nothing of the other mothers and grandmothers who have adopted technology and remain ever present in the lives of their own loved ones.
According to an Edison Research report last Mother’s Day, Moms and Media 2014: Mobile Momentum, 92 percent of moms own a cellphone (69 percent of them smartphones), and 83 percent of those who own a smartphone said it’s “within arm’s length ‘always’ or ‘most of the time.’” The study also found 71 percent of moms send or receive text messages “several times a day.” Recent research from Pew found the vast majority of moms — 85 percent — are Facebook friends with their teenagers, and 85 percent of teenage Facebook users say their parents see the very same posts and content their peers have access to. Thanks in part to digitization, we are having a more genuine and honest relationship with our moms than ever before.
Today, we have greater access to a wider and more diverse array of technologies than any prior generation. That gives us greater access to our moms and, in turn, they have greater access to us. And, apparently, we’re happier with these relationships as a result. In December, the AARP reported on a study by University of Kansas doctoral student Jennifer Schon whose research found, “Young adults were happier and more satisfied in their relationships with their parents, the more communication channels parents are using.” The most popular methods were voice calls (mobile or Skype), text messaging and email.
Young adults simply wanted to hear a parent’s voice, AARP said, “Even if it was just for a quick hello or good night.” Whatever the medium, it continued, “Parents, especially moms, are spending a lot of time interacting with their children.” Schon’s research found that mothers average more than five hours a week on all channels of communication.
At the 2015 International CES®, dozens of companies exhibited technologies that will forever change how parents and children interact and stay connected. No matter your generation, there are technological solutions to help keep mother and child connected and informed. At CES, we saw the introduction of connected and digitized onesies and pacifiers, as well as other technologies like the hereO tracking watch, which lets parents keep tabs on their kids at all times through GPS, Wi-Fi and cell-tower connectivity. As digitization and digital data enter every aspect of our lives, we will see the rise of platforms like Lyve photo organizer, which collects, organizes and stores all of your photos across devices and operating systems for easy sharing and retrieval. My mom has 12 grandchildren spread across the entire country to keep track of, and she is increasingly turning to digital means to stay in touch and remain a force in our lives. These platforms will begin to change the relationships we have with those whom we love the most.
Our relationship with our mothers is getting a digital reboot — the start of which is just now getting underway. Today, mom engages with you in the digital realms of Facebook and Pinterest. Tomorrow, she might be sharing valuable sensor data with you — both explicitly and implicitly.
Already, you might know how many steps she took and, more importantly, how many steps she takes in an average day. From this you can see if she has become less active and might be hiding an injury or illness from you. From near or far, you can now monitor her medication schedule and catch when she might have missed something. Digital cameras and microphones are becoming inexpensive enough to set-up widely around our surroundings, so you can be alerted to falls or other accidents and incidents. Technology has the ability to bridge generations and facilitate conversations. And even more, technology is enabling and initiating conversations that never took place. Today I can nudge my mom to tell me about a possible injury by saying, “I see you haven’t been walking as much this week, tell me how you are feeling.”
Our relationships with Mom will change over time, no doubt — but through it all, the love we have for her is timeless. Technology won’t always keep your mom by your side, but it will enable a much greater bond. The digital time you have with her can be quality time, and not only on the second Sunday in May every year.