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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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14. Couples’ Communication of Rules and Boundaries for Social Networking Site Use

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JACLYN D. CRAVENS JASON B. WHITING

Texas Tech University

Introduction

Technology and Internet use in our daily lives has rapidly grown over the past 15 years. As of 2014, in the United States 90% of adults have cell phones, 58% own smartphones, and 42% have a tablet computer (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2014). The increase in Internet and social networking site (SNS) use has become a major factor in U.S. couples’ relationships. Researchers found that couples use technology in their relationships to facilitate communication and support, to resolve arguments and for sexting (Lenhart & Duggan, 2014). Further, couples reported that the Internet has had a major impact—both good and bad—on their relationships, particularly for the 18–29-year-old cohort.

Technology has many positive impacts on relationships, such as helping maintain relationships (Sidelinger, Ayash, Gordorhazy, & Tibbles, 2008) and increasing connection (Pettigrew, 2009). One fifth of participants in a recent study on couple relationships reported use of technology has helped them feel closer to their partner (Lenhart & Duggan, 2014). Researchers have also explored how computer-mediated communication (CMC) compares to face-to-face communication (Ross & Kauth, 2002). CMC facilitates feelings of anonymity, allowing Internet users to communicate with other users with less inhibition, which can lead to more honest, open, and personal conversations (Spears & Lea, 1994).

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