The electronic hearth revisited : social media, text messaging, and perceived relational closeness.


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This paper examines the effects of social media use and text messaging on perceptions of relational closeness to one’s family, friends, and neighbors. The human need for belonging is reviewed, with special emphasis on frequency and quality of contact. Social media use and text messaging are historically situated within the context of previous research concerned with the impact of prior forms of technology on perceived relational closeness. Using a nationally representative data set (N = 1,257), I use ordinary least squares regression to test several hypotheses. Findings show that social media use and text messaging correlate positively to feelings of relational closeness with friends, but not with family and neighbors. These results contribute to the complexity surrounding the use of new forms of technology and human interaction. Nuances in method, implications of the study, and ideas for future research are discussed.



Social media. Text messaging. Relational closeness.