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It is true that cities are seeing a rise in smaller families and one-person households, while the extended family is becoming a rarity. In my opinion, this is a negative development.
As families become smaller, the traditional family support network is disappearing, and this can have a negative impact on children as they grow up. In a nuclear family or single-parent household, childcare becomes an expensive and stressful part of daily life. Without the help of grandparents or aunts and uncles, busy parents must rely on babysitters, nannies and after-school clubs to take care of younger children, while older children may be left alone after school and during holidays. The absence of adult family members can mean that friends, television and the Internet become the primary influences on children’s behaviour. It is no surprise that the decline of the extended family has been linked to a rise in psychological and behavioural problems amongst young people.
The trend towards people living alone is perhaps even more damaging because of the psychological effects of reduced human interaction. Individuals who live on their own have nobody to talk to in person, so they cannot share problems or discuss the highs and lows of daily life. They forgo the constant stimulation and hustle and bustle of a large family, and are left to their own devices for extended periods of time. The lack of human contact in the home is necessarily replaced by passive distractions, such as television, video games, online chat rooms or Internet surfing. This type of existence is associated with boredom, loneliness, and feelings of isolation or even alienation, all of which are factors that are known to increase the risk of mental illness.
In conclusion, I believe that individuals thrive when they are part of larger family groups, and so it is worrying that many people are choosing to live alone or in such small family units.