Chapter 4: Technology Use and Couple Relationships
In this chapter we examine the use of technology in couple communication and look at differences within and across couples. The Pew Report reading reported that, in 2014, the majority of committed couples said that technology did not have an impact on their relationship. They reported using technology in multiple ways, with use varying by age, but didn’t see this use having an impact. What might couples be considering when they hear the word “impact” in a survey question? And how might they interpret impact related to a) the strength and quality of their relationships and b) the use of technology? Consider Hertlein and Blumer’s conceptual framework as a resource to help identify “impacts” as we might view them from the perspective of family science.
A key consideration about our presence in the online world is the meaning we begin to ascribe to others. Anthony Weiner, a former legislator in New York who was denounced for his “sexting” with others (not his wife), said that the exchange felt like a game, that it was superficial. What might the use of dating apps and technology, which so easily allow us to swipe left and dismiss people, do to our views of others? Does this use have a lasting effect on our expectations of others or the value we place on them? Or are we looking at things far too seriously?
Increasingly, couples are bringing technology concerns to therapists’ offices as an element of conflict for resolution. As family professionals, we want to prevent challenges in couple relationships. Given Gottman’s or other professionals’ considerations of what a healthy couple relationship is and can be, if you were leading a workshop on campus, what might you recommend to protect, strengthen, and preserve couple relationships in terms of their individual and shared technology use? What topics would you cover? What skills would you want participants to gain from attending?
Throughout the book we cover the many advantages and efficiencies of ICT, most of which are enabled on our smartphones. For individuals attempting to flee an aggressive, potentially violent partner, phones can be a lifeline to resources. Yet they can also be the way for intimate partner violence (IPV) to be perpetrated, in ways not possible in the past. In your blog post, weigh the pros and cons of ICT in situations of IPV and take a stand for ways that ICT can be used safely and effectively.