Digital Dating: The Influence of Technology on Romance

 

BY: ASHLEY THOMPSON, PH.D.

In the past few decades, we have been inundated with advancements in technology and tools used for communication. For example, Twitter®, Facebook®, YouTube®, and Snapchat® are just a few of the many computer-mediated tools that have been developed recently to assist our interactions with others. Despite the growth in technology making us more interconnected than ever, many people have started to wonder if this computer-mediated connectivity comes at a cost (particularly for romantic relationships).

To investigate the outcomes associated with the use of technology for communication in romantic relationships, Dr. Andrea Boyle and Dr.  Lucia O’Sullivan conducted a study surveying 359 young adults about their participation in computer-mediated and face-to-face communication with their romantic partner (2016). Their results indicated that the time spent communicating with their partner through computer-mediated tools was less than the time spent communicating face-to-face. This is good news because many studies have supported the benefits of interacting face-to-face in comparison to interactions occurring over computers/smartphones (e.g., voice inflation, physical contact, body language; Attrill & Jalil, 2011; Mallen, Day, & Green, 2003; Ramirez Jr. & Broneck, 2009).

Image result for smartphone love

Despite the greater proportion of time spent communicating face-to-face, the results of Boyle and O’Sullivan’s study (2016) also revealed that computer-mediated communication also had value in romantic relationships. In particular, those who shared a wider range of topics about themselves through digital technologies reported greater intimacy and higher relationship quality as compared to those who disclosed fewer things or negative things.

In sum, although face-to-face communication has many benefits, it appears as though there is also a place for computer-mediated communication in romantic relationships. In particular, if looking to share positive and beneficial messages with a partner, communication via technology seems to be a great avenue. However, when serious conversations need to take place or when hoping to get serious with a partner during times of distress, perhaps face-to-face interactions are ideal.

References

Attrill, A., & Jalil, R. (2011). Revealing only the superficial me: Exploring categorical self-disclosure online. Computers in Human Behavior, 27, 1634-1642.

Boyle, A., & O’Sullivan, L. F. (2016).  Staying connected: Technology use, computer-mediated communication and relationship outcomes among college students. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19, 299-307.

Mallen, M. J., Day, S. X., & Green, M. A. (2003). Online versus face-to-face conversation: An examination of relational and discourse variables. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 40, 155-163.

Ramirez Jr, A., & Broneck, K. (2009). IM me’: Instant messaging as relational maintenance and everyday communication. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26, 291-314.

 

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