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We compared feelings of emotional connectedness as they occurred in person and through digital communication among pairs of close friends in emerging adulthood.
Fifty-eight young women, recruited in pairs of close friends, engaged in four conversations each: in-person, video chat, audio chat, and instant messaging (IM).
By the late 1970’s, experimental work examining information exchange through teleconferencing and closed-circuit television was advanced enough to warrant a review in Psychological Bulletin (Williams, 1977).
However, adolescents and emerging adults use digital communication primarily to communicate with existing friends rather than to make new connections.
One way to address potential differences in digital and in-person communication is to compare them directly.
In developmental psychology, the existing literature on social media use, while increasingly sophisticated, has nonetheless relied primarily on survey-based approaches.
Emerging adulthood; digital communication; friendship; bonding doi: 10.5817/CP2013-2-3 Emerging adults are among the most avid users of digital communication technologies, including texting, instant messaging (IM), and video chat (Duggan & Brenner, 2013; Lenhart et al., 2011).
Furthermore, today’s 18-29 year olds are often described as “digital natives” because they have grown up using these technologies, utilizing text-based tools to develop existing friendships during adolescence, a sensitive period for socioemotional development (Baird, 2010; Prensky, 2001; Steinberg, 2005).