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Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media


Edited By Carol J. Bruess

Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media is an innovative collection of contemporary data-driven research and theorizing about how digital and social media are affecting and changing nearly every aspect of family interaction over the lifespan. The research and thinking featured in the book reflects the intense growth of interest in families in the digital age. Chapters explore communication among couples, families, parents, adolescents, and emerging adults as their realities are created, impacted, changed, structured, improved, influenced and/or inhibited by cell phones, smartphones, personal desktop and laptop computers, MP3 players, e-tablets, e-readers, email, Facebook, photo sharing, Skype, Twitter, SnapChat, blogs, Instagram, and other emerging technologies. Each chapter significantly advances thinking about how digital media have become deeply embedded in the lives of families and couples, as well as how they are affecting the very ways we as twenty-first-century communicators see ourselves and, by extension, conceive of and behave in our most intimate and longest-lasting relationships.
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11. “Technoference”: Everyday Intrusions and Interruptions of Technology in Couple and Family Relationships



← 227 | 228 → “Technoference”

Everyday Intrusions and Interruptions of Technology in Couple and Family Relationships


Pennsylvania State University


New technology and mobile devices, such as cell phones, smartphones, laptops, and tablets, have become common items in many families’ homes in the United States. Recent surveys suggest that approximately 91% of American adults own a cell phone (with 81% of 25–34 year olds owning a smartphone), 61% have a laptop, 34% have a tablet, and 72% of online adults use social networking sites (Brenner & Smith, 2013; Lenhart, Madden, Smith, Purcell, Zickuhr, & Rainie, 2011; Pew, 2012; Rainie, 2012; Smith, 2013; Zickuhr, 2013). These numbers are likely increasing; mobile technologies and communication devices have become the fastest-growing technology in history (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Qiu, & Sey, 2007). These devices have become so popular and have such attractive features that some individuals and families are beginning to use them in ways problematic for themselves and their relationships. The current chapter examines what I term “technology interference” or “technoference,” which includes times when and ways that technological devices intrude, interrupt, and/or get in the way of couple or family communication and interactions in everyday life. I begin this discussion first by examining individual characteristics that predict individual use of mobile devices, as well as problematic use. I then move to an examination of characteristics of the devices themselves, those features that influence use. Then, ← 228 | 229 → I...

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