Jamie Butow

Monday, Feb 17 2014 02:00 PM

JAMIE BUTOW: Does the Internet make or break a relationship?

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    Jamie Butow, Californian community engagement coordinator.

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By Jamie Butow

Do you share your password with your spouse or significant other? Do you have joint email and social media accounts? Have postings online been a source of tension in your relationship?

It's not much of a leap to say that the use of the Internet is woven into just about everything we do.

Regular readers of this column are familiar with the research I've noted from the Pew Research Center. Their Internet and American Life Project is nothing less than phenomenal.

They release more than a dozen reports each year on how we are using the Internet in our lives. All their data is collected from nationwide phone and online surveys, and supplemented with other data.

Their latest report addresses the questions above and more. It's subtitled "How American couples use digital technology to manage life, logistics, and emotional intimacy within their relationships."

Some findings include:

* 25 percent of married or partnered adults who text have texted their partner when they were both home together.

Heck, I message my 9-year-old while he's playing Minecraft. It's the easiest way to get his attention. It's either that or disconnect the WiFi.

* 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.

Candy Crush isn't going anywhere, people.

The young 'uns:

* 41 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds in serious relationships have felt closer to their partner because of online or text message conversations.

* 23 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds in serious relationships report resolving an argument using digital tools that they were having trouble resolving in person.

Yes, sometimes it is easier to say something in a text that is hard to say face-to-face.

But DO NOT break up with someone in a text message. Give them the respect of a face-to-face conversation.

* As it turns out, 67 percent of Internet users in a marriage or committed relationship have shared passwords.

Is sharing your password an indication of trust?

A few years ago, NPR had a story on this that has remained in my mind since reading it. I dug it up online (a.k.a. I Googled it).

They spoke with Gizmodo staff writer Sam Biddle and Woodrow Hartzog, assistant professor of privacy law and online agreements at Samford University.

In my mind, if you're in a committed relationship and have nothing to hide, why shouldn't you share?

These two play devil's advocate.

Hartzog points out that "the real threat doesn't come with a secret coming through email but rather information that's being taken out of context. And so if you're not there to explain what this email meant, then perhaps it'd be misinterpreted and could lead to problems."

Biddle points out in the NPR piece that a Netflix password isn't the same as an email or Facebook password. And it's noted that if a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend asks for your bank account password, you'd be wise to look into an identity theft service.

So I'm torn. I believe that if you trust someone, you should trust them with your most personal information. But that NPR piece brings out the cynic in me.

Read the full report on what couples say about the Internet at http://www.pewinternet.org.

 

Facebook genders

You don't have to be just male or female on Facebook anymore. The social media giant is adding a customizable option with about 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender, including "gender questioning," "androgynous," "intersex" and "neither."

You'll also be able to address the pronoun used to refer to you -- "her," him," or "them" -- when Facebook encourages others to send you a birthday wish or a message.

Jamie Butow is the community engagement coordinator for The Bakersfield.com Network. Email her at JButow@bakersfield.com. Follow her at Facebook.com/JamieButow2, and on Twitter@JamieButow.

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