Technology takes a toll on relationships

In Campus News, News

Update (10/19/2012 at 9:07 p.m.): Spelling was corrected on the name Valerie Minchala, Ph.D.

Texting, Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones have dramatically affected the way students communicate with each other and maintain relationships.

New technology and how it affects relationships and friendships was the focus of the iRelationships workshop, presented Wednesday by the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

Valerie Minchala, Ph.D., and Ya-Shu Liang, Ph.D., both licensed psychologists at the Student Health and Counseling Center at Cal State Fullerton, created the workshop because they noticed how a growing number of clients with relationship problems regularly texted or used Facebook.

Minchala said they wanted to have an open discussion with students about what they thought about technology and its effect on their relationships.

“As we talk about what’s going on for them (clients) there is always this theme around technology whether it is texting or Facebook,” said Minchala. “I don’t see how that doesn’t play a role in interpersonal struggles.”

According to CAPS, college students send about 100 texts a day, have 128 contacts in their cell phones and check social networking sites at least five times a day.

Liang said there is also a positive correlation between the amount of Facebook friends a person has and the amount of text messages and calling that person does.

“If you have a longer list of friends then you are more likely to text or call because of the more people you have to maintain a relationship with,” said Liang.

Liang said using texts to help maintain a close relationship with someone is not necessarily a bad thing. Texting is an important way to maintain a relationship and can make people more dependable in a friendship.

However, she said it can also lead to greater “maintenance expectations,” like expecting a fast response from a text, which can increase over-dependence and can lead to decreased satisfaction in a relationship.

Jen Friel, creator of the blog Talk Nerdy to Me Lover, said technology dramatically changes the way relationships work.

“The amount of connectivity has never been greater,” said Friel. “No longer do we have to go to the bar to meet new people, instead we can just do it online.”

Friel said that even though technology brings us together in new ways, people should still make time to meet in person to establish a stronger relationship.

While technology gives us new ways to meet people, Liang said research revealed that online dating is no more effective than meeting someone in a bar.

One of the reasons, she said, is because when talking to someone online one can have high expectations for how the person acts in person, and more often than not, they do not meet these expectations when they finally meet face-to-face.

Even though technology has dramatically altered the way college students interact, there is still hope for one-on-one interactions.

“I think it (technology) can certainly have a negative effect on people, younger or older, but I think there is also those safety nets for ensuring that people still are able to develop those interpersonal skills to have those one-on-one interactions,” Minchala said.

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