Impact of technology on long-distance relationships

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By Eshaya Siriwardane, Shannon Skibicki, Johanna Porse, Florentina Herr & Carolin Hunkemöller

With the rise of mobile devices and smartphones, long-distance communication has never been so easy. Loved ones are only a quick text or phone call away. But does the rise of mobile communication guarantee successful long-distance relationships? Our research topic is long-distance relationships among bachelor students. We are interested in exploring the impact that technology has on long-distance relationships and how bachelor students perceive long-distance relationships.

For our preliminary research, we used three questions in order to examine the feasibility of and the general interest in our research topic. Five students were asked about their personal experiences and opinions regarding long-distance relationships. We tried to use questions that vary in the level of depth and the answers they trigger. Our questions range from an introductory question to a question requiring a personal opinion and are outlined below.

  1. Do you believe that long-distance relationships have become more prevalent due to advancements in technology and globalisation – and why?
  2. Have you ever been or would you ever consider to be in a long-distance relationship?
  3. In your opinion, out of the three following means of communication (phone calls, Facetime, texting), which do you believe to be most beneficial and least beneficial for long-distance relationships and why?

Our research questions provided interesting insights into the social lives of five students of different nationalities, gender, and age. All students felt that long-distance relationships have become more prevalent thanks to advancements in technology facilitating the communication across long distances. However, different students had differing opinions on how specifically technology can impact a long-distance relationship. Three out of the five participants have been in a long-distance relationship and were opposed to entering one again while the other two had not been in a long-distance relationship but were open to entering one. All participants felt that Facetime was the most beneficial means of communication because it was the most intimate form of communication. In addition, all participants said that texting was the least beneficial due to the lack of nonverbal communication making misunderstandings more common. One student also noted that the convenience of texting actually made it harder to maintain interesting conversation because there was perceived pressure to talk all the time.

The results of our preliminary research open up further interesting areas for research. Is technology always a blessing or also a curse to long-distance relationships? What are the different ways that technology impacts said relationships? What are the positives and negatives of face-to-face communication compared to communication via text?

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