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Family Communication in the Age of Digital and Social Media

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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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12. Love Letters Lost?: Gender and the Preservation of Digital and Paper Communication from Romantic Relationships

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← 244 | 245 → Love Letters Lost?

Gender and the Preservation of Digital and Paper Communication from Romantic Relationships

MICHELLE Y. JANNING NEAL J. CHRISTOPHERSON

Whitman College

AUTHOR NOTE: The authors wish to express appreciation to Emma Snyder for her survey research assistance, and Carol Bruess for her encouragement and editorial advice. The authors also wish to thank Alissa Cordner and David Hutson for comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. Correspondence concerning this chapter should be addressed to Michelle Janning, Department of Sociology, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA 99362. Contact: janninmy@whitman.edu

Introduction

When it comes to remembering love, does the act of unpacking and unfolding mean something different than the act of swiping and scrolling?

A recent New Yorker article highlights a South Korean app called “Between,” a digital system for romantically involved couples to privately exchange everything from text and voice messages to photos, notes, and stickers, all of which are saved in a virtual pine-colored “memory box” meant to digitally mimic the keepsake, under-the-bed boxes and underwear drawers where special romantic messages were once preserved (Collins, 2013). More recently, an article in The Atlantic reveals gender differences in how young men and women save “sexts”; teenage boys tend to save and share sexts with male friends as a form of currency or status to show their friends, and girls tend to save sexts as markers of relationship stages ← 245 | 246 → and...

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