Text, hug, tweet: How the Internet impacts relationships

WASHINGTON – Cellphones, the Internet and social media have become staples in today’s fast-paced, technology-fueled world. But how does digital technology fit into the relationships of many Americans?

A new report from Pew Research Center examines Internet and social media use among committed couples, including digital technology’s role in intimacy, logistics, arguments and daily communication.

How are couples measuring up? Here are some highlights:

Using Digital Technology:

  • 88 percent of partnered Americans use the Internet
  • 71 percent use social networking sites
  • 93 percent have a cellphone

Organization and Logistics:

  • 27 percent of Internet users who are married or are in a committed relationship share an email account
  • 11 percent of couples share an online calendar
  • 67 percent of Internet users in a marriage or committed relationship say they have shared an online password with their spouse or current partner

Impact on the Relationship:

  • According to the couples surveyed, the Internet plays a modest role in their relationships. However, younger couples reported the Internet having more of an impact on their relationships than older couples. Those living in urban areas are more likely to report the Internet having an impact on their relationship than those living in rural areas.
  • 8 percent of online adults have argued with their partner about the amount of time one of them was spending online
  • 4 percent have been upset by something they found their partner was doing online
  • 25 percent of cellphone owners in committed relationships have felt that their spouse or partner was distracted by a cellphone when spending time together
  • 21 percent say they have felt closer to their partner due to an exchange online or via text message
  • Sexting is on the rise: Some 9 percent of cellphone owners have sent a suggestive text, while 20 percent have received one. Younger adults are more likely to sext than older adults, and cellphone owners who date online are more likely to sext.

For the full report: Pew Internet and American Life Project

WTOP’s Rachel Nania contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter and on the WTOP Facebook page.

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