Digital technology continues to eke a permanent place in American lives. How we communicate, who we meet, and how we meet them. How we manage our lives are increasingly dictated by the Internet, social media and cell phones. But how do couples in committed relationships, married or not, use technology to manage their lives?
This study from Pew Research shows how technology plays a prominent role in the lives of couples in committed relationships, which covers two-thirds of Americans. Among their intriguing findings:
- 67% share an online password with a partner. Over a quarter of couples share an email account with their partner, especially older couples.
- 11% of couples with social networks share profiles.
- Parents are more likely to share passwords than those without children at home - 71% compared to 65% who are not parents.
- One-quarter of those who share email accounts also share a social media profile, while 16% also share online calendars and 87% also share other passwords.
- 72% of couples said it has “no real impact at all” on their partnership. However, younger, tech-savvy couples - around 45% - see the Internet as having a pronounced impact.
- For younger adults and those in new relationships, technology can be a “source of frustration and distraction,” with 18% experiencing an argument with their partner about the amount of time on of them spends online.
- 25% of cell phone owners feel their spouse or partner was distracted by their cell phone when they spend time together, with 42% of 18-29-year-olds experiencing this issue.
- Over a fifth of Internet users or cell phone owners felt closer to their partner because they’re able to communicate online or via text
So how does this relate to young couples, or dating among those ages 12 to 24? Well, your actions as parents can greatly affect how your teens view digital usage in a relationship.
While your marriage or relationship may be stable and you feel comfortable sharing passwords, this isn’t necessarily a good idea for your child. Their relationship is probably still brand new compared to yours, and sharing passwords could lead to unwanted digital abuse. Alternately, they may see your relationship and feel that sharing passwords is the best way to prove trust or love.
Another way in which their relationship may differ is how technology can distract. Are you looking at your phone more than your kids? Is this normal behavior in your house? This may lead your child to think it’s okay to use their phone or other tech devices frequently in the presence of a partner, but your child’s partner may see it differently.
Talk to your child about the similarities and differences in your relationships. Sure, you may both be addicted to Candy Crush, but you can help them navigate how to have fun with technology and maintain a healthy relationship. Or if they feel pressured to share a password and think it’s okay because they see you and your partner do it, explain how it’s different for you. It’s what works in your relationship, but probably isn’t the best idea for theirs because it could potentially lead to digital abuse.
Discuss what healthy relationships really mean and how to show their love and trust while still holding up technological boundaries. Above all, keep the door open and let them know they can come and talk to you at any time about relationship issues, whether it’s digital or otherwise.