USU Study: How technology impacts relationships

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LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 News) – A new study by a Utah State University Assistant Professor helps us to understand the impact technology is having on our relationships.

David Schramm, Utah State University assistant professor and Extension family life specialist, also known as USU relationship specialist “Dr. Dave,” said it is inevitable that technology creeps into nearly every aspect of our lives. He said he believes there are two important areas that must be consciously protected to help strengthen couple and parent-child relationships: in the bed and at the table.

Schramm says those places should be considered off-limits when it comes to technology use.

In order to better understand “technoference,” the way technology use interferes with face-to-face interactions, Schramm decided to conduct a survey of 631 parents across the United States between the ages of 21 and 60.

Schramm asked several questions related to technology use and these were the results:

  • Eighty-eight percent agree that technoference is a big problem in our society, with 62 percent of those surveyed agreeing that it is a big problem in their family. Seventy percent reported that technology interrupts family time at least occasionally.
  • Forty-five percent consider technology a big problem in their marriage.
  • More than one-third of the adults use technology in their bed every night or almost every night. Even more, 43 percent, report that their spouse/partner uses technology in bed every night or almost every night. That may be why nearly 25 percent feel like their partner’s use of technology in bed interferes with their sexual relationship.
  • Fifty-five percent feel like their spouse/partner spends too much time on their cell phone, and 48 percent wish their significant other would spend less time on their cell phone and more time with their children.
  • Fifty-three percent believe they personally are on their cell phone too much, while 59 percent believe their spouse or partner is on it too much.
  • Six out of 10 adults are concerned about the influence technology has on their relationship with their children, and nearly one out of four wish they had more information about technology and parenting, but don’t know where to turn.
  • Thirty-eight percent of adults admit to using technology at least occasionally while eating at home with family members. This only drops slightly to 35 percent who report using technology while eating at a restaurant with their spouse or partner at least occasionally.

“The overall survey results show that higher levels of technology use and technoference adds up to significantly less time spent together as a couple, less satisfaction and connection, and higher levels of depression and anxiety,” he said.

When asked if he has advice for the upcoming holidays, Schramm said, “Talk more, use your phone less, and be where you are.”

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