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New Communication Technology Might Harm Relationship Between Deployed Soldiers and their Families

May 1, 2013

Even though we can communicate with loved ones almost instantly today, one MU researcher has found that sometimes the brevity of text and Twitter messages actually stand in the way of emotional connections.  Brian Houston looked at deployed parents and their communication patterns with their children, and determined that sometimes newer methods of communication have negative effects. Houston is co-director of MU’s Terrorism and Disease Center, and is extensively involved in collaborative research.

Story by:  Mizzou Weekly


As recently as the Vietnam War, soldiers’ families typically waited months to receive communication from soldiers on the front lines. Now, cell phones and the Internet allow deployed soldiers and their families to communicate instantly.

However, along with the benefits of keeping in touch, using new communication technologies can have negative consequences for both soldiers and families, said J. Brian Houston, co-director of MU’s Terrorism and Disaster Center (TDC) and assistant professor of communication in the College of Arts and Science. The research could lead to guidelines for how active military personnel and their families can best use modern communications.

“Deployed soldiers and their families should be aware that newer methods of communication, especially texting, can have unintended impacts,” Houston said. “The brevity and other limitations of text messages often limit the emotional content of a message. The limited emotional cues in text messages or email increases the potential for misunderstandings and hurt feelings. See more…