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'IM Me': Instant Messaging as Relational Maintenance and Everyday Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Instant Messaging, Page 9 such study examining relationships developed through on-line newsgroup participation, Parks found that moderately high levels of interdependence, breadth and depth, and commitment were commonly reported (Parks & Floyd, 1996). Particularly relevant to the present study, most participants used multiple channels of communication, including e-mail, traditional mail, FtF, and the telephone, to enact their relationships. Parks reported similar findings in a subsequent study examining personal relationships developed in MOOs (Parks & Roberts, 1998). Participants in that study reported fairly high levels of relationship development, as indexed by six of the seven indicators measured (interdependence, breadth, depth, code change, predictability/understanding, and commitment). The use of multiple communication channels to maintain relationships again surfaced as common, with over 92% of the participants reporting the use of channels other than the MOO to sustain their involvements. More inclusive research has only recently begun to emerge and provides explicit evidence of the role of CMC in maintaining ongoing relationships initiated FtF. In a study examining home e-mail use, Stafford et al. (1999) found that uses associated with relational maintenance were reported more often than any other; 41.5% of the uses reported were interpersonal in nature, most of which pertained to the maintenance of relationships. Participants reported using e-mail to “keep in touch with friends” (14.8%), “to keep in touch with family and relatives, like children in college” (8.5%), “to keep in touch with friends or relatives, who live far away” (5.4%), and “to share ideas or opinions, or to exchange information with people you know” (5.4%). Dainton and Aylor’s (2002a) recent examination of communication channel use revealed that individuals in long-distance relationships reported using the Internet fairly frequently (3-4 times a week) to maintain their relationships. In their study, increased Internet use was significantly associated with the greater use of positivity and network relational maintenance strategies as well as higher

Authors: Ramirez, Artemio. and Broneck, Kathy.
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Instant Messaging, Page 9
such study examining relationships developed through on-line newsgroup participation, Parks
found that moderately high levels of interdependence, breadth and depth, and commitment were
commonly reported (Parks & Floyd, 1996). Particularly relevant to the present study, most
participants used multiple channels of communication, including e-mail, traditional mail, FtF,
and the telephone, to enact their relationships. Parks reported similar findings in a subsequent
study examining personal relationships developed in MOOs (Parks & Roberts, 1998).
Participants in that study reported fairly high levels of relationship development, as indexed by
six of the seven indicators measured (interdependence, breadth, depth, code change,
predictability/understanding, and commitment). The use of multiple communication channels to
maintain relationships again surfaced as common, with over 92% of the participants reporting the
use of channels other than the MOO to sustain their involvements.
More inclusive research has only recently begun to emerge and provides explicit evidence of
the role of CMC in maintaining ongoing relationships initiated FtF. In a study examining home
e-mail use, Stafford et al. (1999) found that uses associated with relational maintenance were
reported more often than any other; 41.5% of the uses reported were interpersonal in nature,
most of which pertained to the maintenance of relationships. Participants reported using e-mail to
“keep in touch with friends” (14.8%), “to keep in touch with family and relatives, like children in
college” (8.5%), “to keep in touch with friends or relatives, who live far away” (5.4%), and “to
share ideas or opinions, or to exchange information with people you know” (5.4%). Dainton and
Aylor’s (2002a) recent examination of communication channel use revealed that individuals in
long-distance relationships reported using the Internet fairly frequently (3-4 times a week) to
maintain their relationships. In their study, increased Internet use was significantly associated
with the greater use of positivity and network relational maintenance strategies as well as higher


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