Carnegie Mellon University
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Keeping in Touch by Technology: Maintaining Friendships after a Residential Move

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posted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Irina Shklovski, Robert Kraut, Jonathon Cummings
Many observers have praised new communication technologies for providing convenient and affordable tools for maintaining relationships at a distance. Yet the precise role of mediated communication in relationship maintenance has been difficult to isolate. In this paper, we treat residential moves as natural experiments that threaten existing social relationships and often force people to rely on mediated communication to maintain their old relationships. Results from a 3-wave survey of 900 residential movers describing 1892 relationships shows that email and the telephone play different roles in social relationships. Email helps maintain social relationships, in the sense that relationships decline when email drops after the move. However increases in email are not associated with increases in the depth of the relationship or exchanges of support. In contrast, phone calls help movers grow relationships and exchange social support.


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Copyright © 2008 by the Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. Permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than ACM must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, to republish, to post on servers, or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from Publications Dept., ACM, Inc., fax +1 (212) 869-0481, or © ACM, 2008. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in the Proceedings of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems {978-1-60558-011-1 (2008)}



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