According to a new study on couples, technology has become a key actor in the life of many American adults who are married or in committed relationships.
The report reveals that couples use digital tools like the Internet, cell phones and social media — both small and large moments — to help facilitate communication and support. Unsurprisingly, 12 percent of couples also say they have fought over technology and had hurtful experiences caused by its use.
As for social network usage, a small number of couples report sharing email and social media accounts and calendars, while a majority of internet users in couples have separate emails and social media accounts.
Here are some more major findings, by the numbers:
- Computer love has been for the better: 74 percent of the adult internet users who report that the internet had an impact on their marriage or partnership say the impact was positive; 20 percent said the impact was mostly negative, and 4 percent said it was both good and bad.
- Texting makes the heart grow fonder: Text messaging and online exchanges have helped 21 percent of cell owners or internet users in a committed relationship to feel closer to their spouse or partner.
- It’s me or the cell phone: 25 percent of cell phone owners in a marriage or partnership have felt their spouse or partner was distracted by their cell phone when they were together.
- Shared Lives, Shared Passwords: 67 percent of internet users in a marriage or committed relationship have shared the password to one or more of their online accounts with their spouse or partner.
- Long Term Couples Share Emails: 27 percent of internet users in a marriage or committed relationship–typically older adults and those who have been in their relationship for longer than ten years–have an email account that they share with their partner.
Young love seems to be most impacted, both positively and negatively, by technology, with 45 percent of Internet users ages 18 to 29 in serious relationships reporting that the Internet has had an impact on their relationship (only one in ten online adults 65 and older said the same).
Study authors Amanda Lenhart and Maeve Duggan also note that long-term couples–those who have been together for over a decade, typically an older crowd–tend to view and use technology very differently compared with those who have been together for a shorter period of time.
Regarding the more intimate moments in relationships, sexting among adults has also increased, from six percent to nine, since 2012.
The report, “Couples, the Internet and Social Media,” is based on the results of a survey conducted via telephone interviews in English and Spanish by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. A sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and older, were interviewed from April 17 to May 19 in 2013.
The margin of sampling error for results based on the total sample is plus or minus 2.3 percent.