Families who have put the brakes on digital interaction, such as those in Italy, appear to be stable, according to the director of the International Centre for Family Studies in Milan.

Research carried out among 3,700 families in Italy has revealed a new “hybridised” family relationship, where the clear distinction between the real and the virtual world has faded, Francesco Belletti told the Times of Malta on International Day of Families, marked on Tuesday.

Communication in such relationships is intertwined between face-to-face and digital interaction. This could lead to a set of risks and ambiguities, but the Italian family scenario proved to be rather “safe and wise”.

These families are approaching the progressive digitalisation of interpersonal communications at a slower pace than others in European countries. Italian families still appear to be willing to keep together the direct personal and physical interactions and the new opportunities of digital connections. Prof. Belletti said that although the study found no direct connection, Italy does have more stable families and a lower divorce rate.

Italian family scenario proved to be rather safe and wise

On Tuesday, Prof. Belletti spoke at a conference in San Anton Palace, Attard, where he presented his latest research on the topic.

The daily lives of contemporary families are increasingly characterised by the ‘smartphone revolution’, continuous connections through the web, and a new multi-media and multi-tasking relational model.

The National Centre for Family Research and the National Entity for Freedom from Addictions within the President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society came together to discuss the multiple challenges and opportunities that this new way of relating presents to families.

The ‘Between face-to-face and digital communication’ discussion was allso addressed by Angela Abela, chair of the National Centre for Family Research and Anna Maria Vella, chair of the National Centre for Freedom from Addictions ahead of an interactive discussion with symposium participants.

In December, local research, called Sustaining Relationships: The Expectations and Lived Experiences of Maltese Couples, by the National Centre for Family Research within the President’s Foundation, showed that shared decision-making, face-to face communication and support in achieving goals emerged as some of the ingredients in keeping the relationship sustainable.

Two clear challenges to long-lasting relationships, according to the study, are lack of time with the partner and income inadequacy.

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