New workers, New consumers: New families?

  • News
  • 07/11/2016
  • COFACE

Digitalisation has been the new buzzword of the past two years with a number of key stakeholders looking at its impact. The tremendous progress of technology over the last 20 years -especially thanks to the Internet-, has already brought about deep transformations in our society; a trend which is bound to continue in the future as a number of relatively "new" developments such as Big Data or Artificial Intelligence will settle in, profoundly affecting 21stcentury families.

Other such changes include work-life balance, or even work-life integration, which breaks the 9am to 5pm office work model in exchange for increased flexibility, the possibility to work from home and 24/7 availability if necessary. While it may allow families to better manage their time, 24/7 availability could also be a curse, put increased pressure to perform and prolong working hours.

COFACE-Families Europe and its German member Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Familien organisationen are jointly organising the conference 'The impact of digitalisation on 21st century families' on 7-8 November in Berlin. Through a series of workshops and networking sessions, COFACE-Families Europe will aim to answer the following questions:

Smart work: Can digitalisation help reconcile work and family life?

Not being able to reconcile their work, family and care responsibilities is one of the main reasons for women to drop out of paid employment or reduce their working hours. Reconciliation is a complex and multi-faceted issue and needs to be approached by different angles.

Digital literacy: an essential skill for the new world of work?

Linking the worlds of education and work have always been a challenge. The ongoing and increasing pace of change in the world of work makes this issue all the more crucial. How can we ensure that families are equipped with the digital skills necessary to integrate the ever-changing labour market?

Future of work: the pros and cons of a digital economy
By 2020, the EU's employment target is to reach 75% of employment rate for the population aged 20-64. But how will automation, AI and robotisation impact employment?

21st century social services: promoting human rights or nourishing dependency?
Innovation in technology certainly impacts the development of social services in the 21st century, and beyond. New trends and person-centred technologies can potentially support persons with disabilities and their families to be included in the community.

Connected children: vulnerable users or digital experts?
The Internet has completely changed how consumers shop for goods and services. Has the online world benefited consumers via more choice, comparability, increased availability of information or has it, on the contrary, accentuated the vulnerability of consumers by overloading the consumer with too many choices and information. How can we protect children in this virtual world?

Big data: threat or opportunity?
There are many concrete examples of how data analytics can impact on families: children may be exposed to increased commercial messages if their data can be processed for advertising/marketing purposes, families may face discrimination in accessing essential services such as healthcare if data about their eating habits or exercising habits are being collected by health insurance companies.

Annemie Drieskens, President of COFACE Families Europe: "We aim to launch a first European discussion on the social impact of digitalisation today in Berlin. Are the new ways of working and new ways of consuming affecting family relations? We need to prepare families for digital changes. This means bringing together key players to prepare strategically for the future, reviewing national and EU policies bringing them in line with 21st century trends, and providing pointers for research to better under the social impacts of digitalization".

To follow and to take part in the online discussion on November the 8th from 9.00 am to 4.30 pm CET, use the conference hashtag #digitalfamiliesEU. View the conference page here.

Note to the editor
COFACE Families Europe is a network of civil society associations representing the interests of all families. COFACE Families Europe's areas of work include social/family policy, education, disability, gender equality, migration, consumer issues, and also protection of children online, privacy, data protection and reflections on technological developments and how they may impact families. More: www.coface-eu.org.

This article was originally published as a COFACE press release and is reproduced here with permission.


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