In Channels of Computer-Mediated Communication and Satisfaction in Long-Distance Relationships, Hampton et. al argue that visual communication platforms are the optimal form of communication for those physically apart in long-distance relationships (LDR). Specifically, the researchers show that the usage of Skype was the strongest predictor of relationship satisfaction and communication satisfaction for those in LDRs.
Hampton et. al show that communication platforms that best mirror face-to-face communications help with relationship satisfaction and maintenance. An international survey was conducted with 588 participants in LDRs and they were asked questions that related to their experiences surrounding communication. The participants were mostly sourced from a Reddit forum related to LDRs. It was found that individuals most favored text-messaging. The researchers believe this could be linked to a recent surge of hyperconnectivity (181). Furthermore, it was noted that social media was not used as often to communicate by those in LDRs because it is less private and not as intimate (181). Skype was specifically an integral part of communication for many LDRs, which was interesting. The authors noted the reason for this is due to Skype being available on a majority of technology devices, whereas products like FaceTime are only offered on Apple products (182). The effectiveness of Skype as a medium of communication was connected to the media richness theory and social information processing theory (182). These theories together emphasize how the intimate exchange of information, especially in a setting that simulates face-to-face communication, strengthens the bond of a LDR.
The results of this study are interesting and make sense, but further research needs to be conducted to prove the reliability. Since the survey was posted on a Reddit forum dedicated to discussing LDRs and seeking advice, the people that answered the survey may not reflect the average couple in a LDR. If the survey were to capture a more randomized subset of those in LDRs, the results would be more reliable. Despite the potential flaws in the data collection, the results make sense and visual communications usually prove to be strong in producing positive feelings in other studies. This topic is interesting to examine as communication platforms have evolved in a myriad of ways. Technology and communication platforms are now used to sustain and strengthen relationships, including romantic ones. To add a personal anecdote, my parents started dating in high school and sustained their LDR in college mostly through letters and an occasional phone call. Now, there are platforms like Skype and FaceTime, which they definitely would have appreciated! Overall, this topic is an applicable, real-life phenomenon that many individuals experience in our society.