Emerging Adults’ Use of Communication Technology with Family Members: A Systematic Review

Heather Hessel, Jodi Dworkin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The last two decades have seen unprecedented growth in the variety and adoption of communication technology used by young people in the United States, with the potential to significantly impact youth–family relationships. This article presents a critical review of fifteen empirical studies on the use of communication technology between 18 and 29 year old emerging adults and their family members, and associations with relationship quality. Conceptualization, methodology, and findings were critiqued. The results showed that the multidisciplinary nature of this research area invites a wide variety of theoretical influences, conceptualization of key measures varies widely, and research on emerging adults connecting with non-parental family members online is a relatively unexplored phenomenon. The findings also revealed generally positive associations between the use of communication technology and relationship quality for emerging adults and their families. The review concludes with a discussion and implications for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-373
Number of pages17
JournalAdolescent Research Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • Communication technology
  • Emerging adulthood
  • Extended family
  • Family relations


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