Family intimacy erodes in big homes

Too much time alone impacts social development

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A hundred years ago in the United States, most people shared small living quarters with only a few rooms, and family members were constantly interacting with each other. This was still true at mid-century when millions of families moved out of the cities into single-family houses during the great suburban migration that followed World War II. Though these new suburban houses had as many as five or six rooms, the overall size of the houses was small and everyone was still within "talking distance" of each other. Most families had only one phone that was invariably located in a central, public spot, so everybody in the household knew the weekend plans of the teenaged children. There was only one bathroom, so the household also had plenty of contact in the morning before everyone scattered for school and work. Over the last 25 years, however, houses have gotten larger and larger. As a consequence, the constant family interactions that occurred in the past are not necessarily a central ...