Monday, March 20, 2006
As the legal system begins to acknowledge the potential benefits of technology in bridging the physical and emotional distance caused by divorce and separation, more families are experimenting with computer-assisted custody sharing.Though most people in the article talk about the good things for parents who have already moved away - a webcam session is more satisfying than a phone call - there are also arguments made that allowing parents to visit their children virtually will encourage parents to move away, because it relieves them of the responsbility to be around.
Although any separating couple can opt for virtual visits in their custody agreement, debate surrounding the issue is unfolding on the state level as advocates push to have the option spelled out in state laws in order to broaden awareness of the practice and enable judges to grant such visits where they see fit.
"The danger is that it will become a substitute for real time," said David L. Levy, chief executive of the Children's Rights Council, based in Hyattsville, Md., which advocates for children affected by divorce and separation. "Virtual time is not real time. You can't virtually hug your child or walk your child to school. We don't want this to be seen as an excuse to encourage move-aways."Which raises the question: how closely can technology approximate "real time" contact, and how closely does it need to in order to provide the kind of interaction that young children need with their parents? This isn't so much linguistic in nature, but issues like nonverbal cues, technological aspects of online conversation - delayed response, for instance - would be important if you really wanted to figure this out.
The Utah and Wisconsin regulations specify that virtual visits should be used as a supplement to, not a substitute for, traditional visits. The Wisconsin bill also specifies that virtual visits should not be used to justify a custodial parent's relocation. The laws define "electronic communication" as contact by video conference, e-mail, instant message, telephone or other wired or wireless technology.
"I think that most judges understand that children require physical one-on-one contact with the absent parent," said Cheryl Lynn Hepfer, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
Anyway, I just thought it was another interesting and important real-world issue that makes our interests relevant. This message brought to you by the Committee to Make Academics Matter (CMAM).
i'm really impressed that this idea has made it all the way to the court system - i'd love to follow this up and see what they end up deciding, since this is just another part of the massive discourse on how 'real' internet communication is (and man, i hate that discourse).
i think it can be very much linguistic in nature. if over time, people can be comforted by someone's online writing style (i'd like to say "idiolect" :| ), then will there be (or are there now) people) people who find it healthier (and happier) to read a smilie rather than see someone smile?
As far as the idea of online style, I tikn there's somethign to that, but I've had a theory for a why that social presence theory, which tries to account for how much a given medium makes people feel like they are "really there" with their interlocutor, needs to be amended to include consideration, possibly of style, but also of past experience with the interlocutor. I.e., I can read an email from my husband and basically "hear" his voice as I read it, with his inflections, sarcasm, etc., probably in part b/c I am familiar with his writing style, but also just b/c of how well I know him and how he talks. I don't email with my mom a lot, but I can still hear her voice in my head with her emails, because I know how she would say it if she were actually talking to me F2F. So I think the presence, or how "real" the communication feels, is in part a function of how familair you are with the person you are communicating with, as well as how much experience you have with the medium, etc. Now, it may still not be the same thing as getting a hug, but I just don't think we can make across the board statements that such-and-such medium is defacto not "real" or "not real enough," without being a lot more precise about what these terms mean.
Ok, that kind of turned into a rant too. Oh well!
saying 'i love the way you laugh' has a counterpart in 'i love the way you use that smiley with the zero in it' in these types of relationships, i'd argue. i'm not sure if this argument fits in completely with the original thread (what was the original thread?), but here it is.