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Text, Twitter, Tweet… Couples, the Internet and Social Media: Being distracted by the wired world

Social media has changed the daily lives of couples by:

  • How they stay in touch with others (and reconnect with people);
  • The way couples make friends, how they find acquaintances and how others find partners by connecting with people anywhere in the world;
  • How couples do business, how businesses connect to buyers and potential buyers;
  • How they reveal themselves and share information;
  • How couples allow their voice to be heard – to amplify a message; and
  • How they learn.

This technology also creates difficult situations for couples involving emotional intimacy and fidelity, including the ease of access to personal details, the ease at which private communication can take place and access to pornography. Facebook is increasing cited in divorce proceedings in both the US and UK.

Whilst most of the qualities that help sustain a good relationship have not changed – commitment, effective communication, constructive conflict and patience, honesty, forgiveness amongst others – there is strong evidence that couples are using these technologies to enhance their relationships. Both the opportunities and threats associated with the use of internet and mobile technologies including the stress associated with their use by couples must be understood and considered to ensure effective communication in all their life stages.

While younger adults in serious relationships are more likely than older couples to report that the internet has had an impact on their relationship, this impact can cut both ways. Many young couples view technology as a way to bring greater intimacy to their relationship, even as it introduces new sources of tension.

  • 45% of online 18-29 year olds in serious relationships say the internet has had an impact on their relationship – 21% say a major impact.
  • 42% of 18-29 year olds with a mobile phone in a serious relationship say their partner has been distracted by their phone while they were together.
  • 41% of online 18-29 year olds in serious relationships felt closer to their partner because of online or text conversations.

“Technology is everywhere and our relationships are no exception,” said Amanda Lenhart, lead author of the report and Senior Researcher at the Pew Research Center. “And for younger adults and those in newer relationships, tools such as mobile phones and social media are there at the beginning and play a greater role today for good and for ill.”

Reference:

  • Cowley, D, 2017: Social Media Statistics Australia – April 2017: https://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-april-2017/
  • Hampton, K.N., Rainie, L., Lu, W., Shin, I., & Purcell, K. (2014). “Social Media and the Cost of Caring.” Pew Research Center, Washington, DC. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/

Tune in for more tips and ideas next week.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the new video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM

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