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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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13. “Unplugging the Power Cord”: Uncovering Hidden Power Structures via Mobile Communication Technology Use within the Traditional Marital Dyad

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← 266 | 267 → “Unplugging the Power Cord”

Uncovering Hidden Power Structures via Mobile Communication Technology Use within the Traditional Marital Dyad

ANDREA GUZIEC IACCHERI

Ohio University

ADAM W. TYMA

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Introduction

According to the Pew Research Internet and American Life Project (Pew Research Publications, 2014), 90% of American adults own cell phones, 81% of cell phone users use text or SMS messaging as their primary communication method, and 21% of those users participate in video chat or video calls. The ever-growing usage of mobile communication technology (MCT), specifically how text-based mobile communication is used by marriage partners, is the focus of this chapter. Although prior and current research increases our understanding of communication between spouses (e.g., Albright & Conran, 2003; Baym, Zhang, Kunkel, Ledbetter, & Lin, 2007; Garcia-Montes, Caballero-Munoz, & Perez-Alvarez, 2006; Jin & Pena, 2010; Kennedy & Wellman, 2007; Licoppe, 2004; Pettigrew, 2009; Ramirez & Broneck, 2009; Solis, 2006), developing theoretical explanations of how married couples communicate via mobile digital technologies is essential, as marital communication is becoming more commonly mediated by, and accomplished via, communication technologies (Lenhart & Duggan, 2014).

Our analysis extends current research on marital communication, computer-mediated communication, and MCT by investigating the practices of text-based mobile communication (e.g., text messages, email, Google Chat, SMS, and MMS) between spouses, or what will be referred to in this chapter as “mobiText.” ← 267 | 268 → For purposes...

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