January 22, 2007

Prof: Television can sour relationships this Valentine's Day

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Turning off the television may be the best gift to give your sweetheart this Valentine's Day, says a Purdue University expert on the effects of mass media.

"Some forms of technology, such as cell phones or e-mail, can help relationships survive long distances or busy schedules," says Glenn Sparks, a professor of communication and mass media effects expert. "But other uses, such as chronic television watching, can affect how people communicate in relationships or even keep people from making friends."

For example, while watching TV or a movie might be a fun thing to do together, too much television can interfere with getting to know someone or maintaining a relationship.

"There may be programs we like to watch together, and this is good, but there is a concern that a television that is always on interferes with how we communicate," Sparks says.

Sparks' research shows that television viewing reduces the amount of time spent talking, listening and making eye contact when friends are in the same room.

"Friends and couples should talk about how the television is helping or hurting how they communicate with each other," Sparks says. "Making a change can mean more than just turning the television off."

He suggests making plans to do something else, such as going for a walk, playing a game or planning a trip.

"Just muting the television can be a starting point," Sparks says.

Media Contact: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432, maggiemorris@purdue.edu

Source: Glenn Sparks, (765) 494-3316, gsparks@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Related Web site:
Purdue College of Liberal Arts: http://www.cla.purdue.edu/

 

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