The New York Times published an interesting article on 12-3-14 about psychological research on the effects of technology and gadgets on relationships. The article, “Are Gadget-Free Bedrooms the Secret to a Happy Relationship?“, reviewed a growing body of psychology research which is examining how technology is affecting relationships.
For example, one study cited in the article found that when one person in a relationship uses a device more than the person’s partner, the partner will feel ignored and insecure. This is probably not radical news to many people who had been in the situation, but it is interesting to have objective research substantiates it. One of the researchers quoted noted that excessive use of devices, “encourages a disconnection rather than connection.”
Another study cited in the article found that 25% of cell phone users who are in a relationship finds that their partner was distracted by the partners cell phone when they were together. 8% reported that they had argued about the use of the device. Once again, this is probably not shocking to those of us who have been in this situation, but the research provides objective info about the effect of technology on modern relationships.
The article cites a few more research studies in support of concerns about the impact of devices on relationships, but also goes to describe how, when used collaboratively, devices can potentially enhance a relationship. For example, one study cited in the article found it couples who use technology together can feel “more connected in their relationship.” In fact, some experts even view the advantages of technology devices as outweighing the problems that they can cause. For example, one researcher was quoted about the benefits of being able to stay in touch with, and connect with, loved ones at times when being physically together is not possible.
Overall, this is an interesting article which summarizes research about significant factors in our modern relationships that are likely to come up at times in therapy discussions.