Social media can draw families together

MODESTO — When Elizabeth Zapien-Plata wants to know what her son is doing, she could call. But she knows it's probably faster just to check his Facebook page.

The Modesto mother and business owner often keeps track of her 19-year-old son, Edward Plata II, through his Facebook profile. Or his Tumblr blog. Or his Twitter feed.

"That is their first mode of communication or contact. Phone is last," Zapien-Plata said of her kids. "I text them, too, because they can never say, 'I didn't get your text, mom.' And I know they check their Facebook. They practically sleep with their phones."

In October, most of the family &mash; everyone except her three youngest kids — upgraded to iPhones. Since then, they said, the devices have made keeping tabs on each other easier then ever.

While the frequent complaint about the Internet is that it makes us more isolated, some families have harnessed the power of social media and emerging technologies to become even closer.

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