Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Computer-Mediated Communication in Intimate Relationships: Associations of Boundary Crossing, Intrusion, Relationship Satisfaction, and Partner Responsiveness

Academic journal article Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Computer-Mediated Communication in Intimate Relationships: Associations of Boundary Crossing, Intrusion, Relationship Satisfaction, and Partner Responsiveness

Article excerpt

Technology has enabled new forms of communication that has transformed the way that we connect with those closest to us. Individuals are now using mobile devices on a daily basis to share and communicate in many ways, such as through text messaging, sharing photos through Instagram, sharing experiences through Twitter, posting on Facebook, and video chatting. Communicating through technology, or computer-mediated communication (CMC), has created a new form of connectedness for families and couples that is based on remote digital interactions and shared experiences (Kennedy, Smith, Wells, & Wellman, 2008).

While many researchers and scholars have examined CMC, the vast majority of the research has been published in the fields of communication, retail, and business, which focus primarily on the characteristics of Internet users and reasons for media use (Hertlein & Webster, 2008). Few empirical articles have been published in family therapy journals. A content analysis of couple and family therapy journals from 1996 to 2010, which included 13,274 articles from 17 journals over a fifteen year period, revealed that less than one percent pertained to Internet-related issues (Blumer, Hertlein, Allen, & Smith, 2013). The analysis revealed the 79 articles were limited to seven topics: clinical practice (28 articles; 35%); cybersex and couples (18 articles; 23%); education and training (17 articles; 22%); online support and resources (seven articles; 9%); teenager and child usage (four articles; 5%); administrative and the business of therapy (three articles; 4%); and cyber addiction (two articles; 2%). Between 1996 and 2010 only 20 articles, which is only 0.0015% of the total research in family therapy, have been focused on CMC in couple relationships. Moreover, the number of published articles in family therapy-related journals has not been increasing along with the increased use of CMC (Blumer et al., 2013). Since 2010, there have been studies on online gaming, dating, and infidelity that have been published mostly in communications journals (e.g., Hertlein, 2012; Zhong, 2011). In a review of the research for Internet infidelity, Vossler (2016) found that what is most missing from research is empirical validation of Internet-related vulnerabilities and current models, which can help to strengthen the explanatory power of current factors and models.

This study seeks to add to the existing empirical literature in family therapy by examining two specific Internet-related vulnerabilities through the lens of the couple and family technology framework, which considers the effects of CMC on couple and family systems (Hertlein & Blumer, 2013). Through the application of this model, we examined the associations of two specific Internet-related factors, online intrusion and acceptability for online boundary crossing, with couples' relationship satisfaction and their responsiveness to each other.

THE COUPLE AND FAMILY TECHNOLOGY FRAMEWORK

In order to conceptualize how CMC impacts couples and families, Hertlein (2012) proposed a multitheoretical model, the couple and family technology (CFT) framework. This theoretical model assumes that CMC has both positive and negative influences on couple and family relationships through the ways that technology impacts the roles, rules, and boundaries of relationships as well as how they are formed, maintained, and dissolved (Hertlein & Ancheta, 2014). The CFT framework conceptualizes this by pulling together three broad perspectives - the ecological perspective, structural-functional perspective, and interaction-constructionist perspective (see Figure 1).

The family ecology perspective, developed by Urie Bronfennbrenner and later expanded by numerous theoreticians and researchers, centers on how the environment affects individuals (Chibucos, Leite, & Weis, 2005). One of its greatest strengths is its emphasis on the impact of macro-societal forces and influences, such as policy, contextual issues, and institutions, on couples and families. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.