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The value of face-to-face communication in the digital world: What people miss about in-person interactions when those are limited


Gruber, Jonathan; Hargittai, Eszter; Nguyen, Minh Hao (2022). The value of face-to-face communication in the digital world: What people miss about in-person interactions when those are limited. Studies in Communication Sciences:1-19.

Abstract

Face-to-face communication is important for building and maintaining relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic led to severe limitations in people’s face-to-face interactions, resulting in most people relying more heavily on digital communication for social connection. Existing research has contributed to the understanding of how face-to-face communication is used alongside digital communication. However, we know little about what elements of face-to-face interactions people miss especially when in-person meetings are heavily reduced, and how this is related to their use of digital communication for social connection. In this study, we draw upon survey data that we collected in spring 2020 from a national sample of U. S. adults to answer these questions. We find that most people missed elements of face-to-face interactions and particularly valued spontaneous interactions, physical closeness, and independence from technology about in-person interactions. More frequent and increasing use of popular digital modes such as voice calls, video calls, text messages, and social media were all positively related to missing face-to-face communication. Our results contribute to the understanding of the role and value of in-person interactions in a digital world.

Abstract

Face-to-face communication is important for building and maintaining relationships. The COVID-19 pandemic led to severe limitations in people’s face-to-face interactions, resulting in most people relying more heavily on digital communication for social connection. Existing research has contributed to the understanding of how face-to-face communication is used alongside digital communication. However, we know little about what elements of face-to-face interactions people miss especially when in-person meetings are heavily reduced, and how this is related to their use of digital communication for social connection. In this study, we draw upon survey data that we collected in spring 2020 from a national sample of U. S. adults to answer these questions. We find that most people missed elements of face-to-face interactions and particularly valued spontaneous interactions, physical closeness, and independence from technology about in-person interactions. More frequent and increasing use of popular digital modes such as voice calls, video calls, text messages, and social media were all positively related to missing face-to-face communication. Our results contribute to the understanding of the role and value of in-person interactions in a digital world.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Communication
Language:English
Date:27 October 2022
Deposited On:23 Dec 2022 10:22
Last Modified:25 Mar 2024 04:45
Publisher:Seismo Verlag
ISSN:1424-4896
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.24434/j.scoms.2022.03.3340
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)