LONDON: The family meal may be threatened with extinction but "High-Tech" parents are now communicating much better with their teenagers and giving them more freedom, says child psychologist Richard Woolfson.

Long gone are the days when parents were much more dictatorial and children were to be seen, not heard.

"The consultation, negotiation and mutual respect that goes on between parents and teenagers in families today would probably shock the mums and dads of 50 years ago," Woolfson said in a study of how family communication has evolved.

Sitting round the table together for a meal was once the bedrock of family life. It is now becoming a thing of the past but Woolfson stressed that was not the end of the world.

"Now we have today's high-tech family where family communication takes place by email, internet, webcam and mobile phone as well as face-to-face of course," he said.

That has another beneficial side-effect, Woolfson said in his survey for the T-Mobile phone company.

Parents are now able to contact their kids much more easily and children have become more confident and communicative.

"This means that parents are less worried about their children's safety because they feel reassured," Woolfson said. And the generation gap is not suffering.

"Even grandma and grandpa have entered the world of cyber space to keep close contact with their children and grandchildren, all of which can only be good news for everyone," Woolfson concluded.