Do calls, email, and texts help mothers and daughters connect? Or have these tools become a poor substitute for real bonding? This week, we share the pros and cons of using technology to stay in touch.

Ellen…

I’ve been a die-hard Droid user for the past six years despite the fact that I’ve been out-voted by all of the iPhone fans in my family. Each time I went to Verizon to upgrade my phone, I expected to walk out with an iPhone but was attracted by one new feature of the Droid that kept me faithful, whether it was the slide-out keyboard, better GPS or larger size. But last month, I did the unthinkable: I converted. Why? Because I wanted to see the photos of my grandson, Ezra, on my son-in-law’s photo-sharing account and I wanted to be able to see Jenna’s beautiful smile on FaceTime when we talk. These two iPhone apps, along with Skype, help me feel closer to my kids and grandson because I can “see” them in their own environment, and that makes me feel like I’m more a part of their life.

The other day, I called Jenna on FaceTime as she was walking to class. It was awesome to see her flushed cheeks, the scarf around her neck and the streets of Philadelphia in the background –I was able to experience a slice of her day as if I was walking right beside her.

Jen and I have a Skype date every Friday night before dinner: It’s the one time each week that we reserve for each other to catch up, and that time is very precious to me. We occasionally talk during the week, but usually rely on email and texting to communicate because we just don’t have the time.  While writing is not the same as a phone call, it still makes me feel connected to Jenna, because it means that we are thinking about each other in the midst of our very separate lives.

But, as we’ve shared in past posts, Jenna and I both feel the need to get together face-to-face to reinforce our relationship. There really is no substitute for spending time together whether it be chatting over dinner, shopping or meeting with each other’s friends. Over the past year and a half while Jenna has been in Philadelphia, it’s been easier to accomplish that because she is only two hours away. But after she graduates from school in May, who knows where she’ll be.  What comforts me is that I know we’ll make the time for each other no matter where she calls home because we are committed to keeping our relationship strong.  We might just need to rack up some air miles to do that!

Jenna…

I know I’m a millennial but I must admit it – I really don’t like technology. Nothing makes me happier than turning off my phone for a day and having some peace and quiet. When I travel, I’ve even been known to unplug for many days at a time and force my loved ones to wait patiently for my responses.

When I turn the technology off, I quickly realize how much of my day I spend buried in my cell phone – and all of life that I am missing right in front of me. It’s unbelievable to think how much time we spend with technology. A recent study showed that we spend more time on our phones and laptops than sleeping. That’s crazy!

Still, I often wonder what relationships would be like without Skype, Facebook, and text messages. I have friends and loved ones that span coasts and countries; there simply isn’t enough money or time to travel to one another. Technology allows us to stay closer and feel connected to each other’s day to day lives.

It’s been so interesting watching my mom adapt to technology over the years to stay in touch. First, it was e-mail – and she sent dozens a day! I would wake up and my inbox would be flooded with her random thoughts; often times I would write back, ‘STOP SENDING SO MANY EMAILS AND CONSOLIDATE!’ Thank goodness she has now found text messages.

Then it was Facebook. When I was in college, my mom wanted to see my pictures when I studied abroad so she created an account. She quickly became an addict like most of us and really enjoyed connecting with old friends! And finally, she has broken down and purchased an iPhone so we can FaceTime.

What’s ironic is these small incremental changes do really make a difference. Each new technology that comes out bring us closer and allow us to be more present in each other’s lives. But at the same time, I often fear we hide behind technology to put off tough conversations and avoid sharing our real feelings.  I agree with my mom – face-to-face communication trumps all and while technology is a gift, it will never be a substitute for quality time together.