The Internet Family: Technology in Couple and Family Relationships  book cover
1st Edition

The Internet Family: Technology in Couple and Family Relationships

ISBN 9781138478053
Published May 29, 2019 by Routledge
332 Pages

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USD $44.95

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Book Description

In The Internet Family, Drs. Katherine Hertlein and Markie Twist provide a current and comprehensive look at the effects of technology on couple and family relationships.

Beginning with an overview of the multifaceted ways in which technology impacts our relationships today, the authors discuss a wide range of topics pertinent to couple and family life. Chapters focus on issues such as online dating and infidelity, parenting and the Internet, video gaming, cyberbullying, and everyday usage of social and new media, before providing guidance on how the reader can successfully navigate the advantages and risks that emerge from the use of specific technologies. An online appendix offers a range of assessments and practical tools for identifying Internet-related problems and solutions.

A portion of the text is also devoted to the application of the Couple and Family Technology framework and how it can be effectively integrated into clinicians’ current practice. Couple and family therapists will find this book highly informative, both to use in their own practice and for referring clients to as part of the treatment process.

Table of Contents



Purpose of the Book

Outline of Chapters

Key Terms

A Note on Timeliness


SECTION 1 Tutorial on Technology and Relationships

Chapter 1 Couples, Families, and Technology

Technology Invasion

Prevalence of Technology in Our Lives

Mobile Connections by Device

The Rise of the Applications: Online Video Games

The Rise of the Applications: Social Networking

Effects of Technology on Our Individual Selves

Effects of Technology on Physical Well-Being

Media Misinformation

Sedentary Lifestyles


Effects of Technology on Psychological Well-Being

Life Satisfaction

Technology and Our Work Lives

Projecting What’s Next for Technology in Our Lives

What Does All of This Mean for Relationships?

The Pathology of Pathology

Our View—A Balanced Approach



Chapter 2 From Digiteris to Tweeps: Understanding Online Communication Patterns

What Drives Patterns of Technology Use?

Theoretical Models of MotivationsApplied to Social Media Use

The Importance of Being in Sync

Relational Factors Influencing Social Media Use

The Desire for Social Capital

’Cuz You’ve Got . . . Personality (Disorders)?

The Only Thing to Fear Is Missing Out

Comparing Face-to-Face and Internet Communication Technologies


Me, My Selfie, and I

Self-Presentation in Couples

Self-Presentation in Families

Shared Data

Rituals and Everydayness

Emotional Intimacy





Chapter 3 Virtual Impacts on Real-Time Individual, Couple, and Family Developments

Technology Immersion Across Developmental Contexts

Individual Lifespan: Erikson Revisited



Young Adulthood

Self-Authorship in a Relationally Authored (and Heterogenic) Environment

Ecological Life Cycle Models

Bronfenbrenner Revisited

Social Comparison With Peers à la Festinger

Taylor Revisited

Technology Use Across Relational Developmental Stages

Technology, Anxiety, and Distress (Oh My!)

You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Phone

Attachment to Technology: The Missing Link?

Technology: The Monkey on Your Back (And in Your Family?)

Technology, Attachment, and Romantic Relationships



Chapter 4 Family “Net”working

Digital Family Communication

Youth and Online Communication

Parenting in a Digital World

Parents and Online Communication

Technology Interference in Parenting

Technology and Adoption

Privacy, Technology, and Family Relationships

From Helicopter-Parents to Drone-Parents:

Surveillance, Spying, and Other Monitoring Strategies

Surveillance Habituation

Family Negotiation of the “Net”



Chapter 5 The iCouple

Common Couple Issues in a Digital Age

Survey Says

Just the Two of Us

An Affair to Delete

Social Media and Romantic Relationships

Texting and Romantic Relationships

I Spy With My Little “I”: Surveillance in Couples

Developing Trust Online



Chapter 6 Relational Malware: Risks of Technology in Relationships

The Trouble With Tech

Risky Business


Your Penetralia is Showing

Privacy Considerations: The People

Privacy Considerations: The Space

Crossing Boundaries in Unbounded Space (Spy-Berspace?)


Technology-Based Dating Violence


“Sometimes It’s Hard to Be a Woman”

Sweet Revenge?




SECTION 2 Rebooting Your Relationships

Chapter 7 What About the Internet Changes Our Relationships?

A Social Solution to a Social Problem

The Couple and Family Technology Framework

Theoretical Frameworks

The Flexibility of the CFT Framework

“Everybody’s Doing It”: Acceptability

“Who Are You?”: Anonymity Online

Me and My Shadow: Accessibility

The Ultimate Cheap Date: Affordability

A World of Sims: Approximation


“I Didn’t Technically Touch Them So It Doesn’t Count”: Ambiguity

The Couple and Family Technology Framework in Action



Chapter 8 Strengthening Roles, Rules, and Boundaries







Chapter 9 Improving Relationship Launches, Runtime, and Crashes

Relational Intelligence in a Digital World

Relationship Formation

“To Swipe or Not to Swipe”

Being Facebook Official

First Comes Love, Then Comes Meeting

Relationship Maintenance

Development Across the Couple Lifespan

Technology’s Contribution to Relationship Satisfaction

Intimacy Development in Relationships With and Without Technology

Building Intimacy Through Self-Disclosure

Relationship Termination

To Block or Not to Block



Chapter 10 Debugging Advanced Internet-Based Relational Problems

Decoding Technology and Relationship Error Messages

Out-of-Control Technology-Related Behaviors


Sexual Technologies

Video and Online Gaming

Relational Power-Ups

Relational Challenge Mode

Action Point: A Case of Out-of-Control Online Gaming Behaviors

What the Tech Do We Do?

You Have Nothing to Fear, but Fear Itself

Winning Over Video Gaming Issues

Managing Out-of-Control Technology-Related Behaviors



Chapter 11 Measuring Technology’s Impact on Relational Life

Assessment of Internet Impact in Daily Life: The Chicken or the Egg?

My Problem Is You(Tube)

Measuring “Addictive”/Compulsive Internet Use

Measurement Tools

What’s in a Name?

Measuring Online Sexual Behavior

The Rebirth of Slick: The Couple and Family Technology Assessment Revised



Chapter 12 Developing Your Personal Technology Integration Plan With the Couple and Family Algorithm

Technology Integration Plan

1. Consider the Audience

2. Maximize the Benefits

3. Consider the Motivations

Integration Ideas for Structure (Roles, Rules, Boundaries)

Boundary Tip 1: Check Your Email—Don’t Let Your Email Check You

Boundary Tip 2: Cover Your Private Parts (or Privacy Management)

Rule Tip 1: Develop a Rule for Your Family on Collective Privacy Management

Initiating Relationships

Rule Tip 1: Recognition of Gatekeeping in Online Dating

Rule Tip 2: Recognition of the “Eight As”

Maintaining Relationships

Intimacy Tip 1: Electronic Fantasy Dates

Intimacy Tip 2: Using Asynchronous Methods to Manage Conflict

Intimacy Tip 3: Using Synchronous

Methods to Obtain Support

Intimacy Tip 4: Ensure Online Friends Are Offline Friends as Well

Trust Tip 1: Recovering From Online Infidelity

Trust Tip 2: Managing Surveillance

Ending Relationships

Termination Tip 1: “Give Up The Ghost”

Termination Tip 2: Using the Benefits of the Internet to Structure Interactions

Online Behavior and Children: Some Guidelines

Rule Tip 1: When Should My Child Be Granted a Cellphone?

Case in Point: A Tale of Two Kiddies

Rule Tip 2: Boundaries and Rules for Safeguarding Against Cyberbullying





[can be accessed at]

Appendix A: Ecological Elements Questionnaire

Appendix B: General Technological Focused Genogram Questions

Appendix C: Couple and Family Technology Focused Genogram Questions

Appendix D: Questions for Consideration Across an Electronic Developmental Lifespan


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Katherine M. Hertlein, PhD, LMFT, is a Professor in the Couple and Family Therapy Program in the School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and has published eight books on couple and family therapy.

Markie L. C. Twist, PhD, LMFT, LHMC, CSE, is the Program Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Sex Therapy and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Wisconsin.



"The new member of the family, technology, is getting older and agile; this member of the family moves fast like a chameleon embedding itself in the psychology of everyday life and the way couples and families do, feel, and think. This book is a must for clinicians trying to understand and map the ways technology and families intensify whatever is happening while also attending at the myriad ways in which we are changing. The book is packed with ways of thinking contextually and relationally about technology: how it can enrich relationships as well as push couples and families into new conundrums. The research in this area is still evolving and the book is ambitious at synthesizing for those that need the scientific and clinical evidence. For clinicians, the continuous synthesis, and the "aha moments" about how new media and emerging technology shape us all are everywhere in the book. The sections within the book are just a wonderful collection of the ways to reconstruct anew what families often see as unresolvable conundrums. I love the titles of the various sections and can see how they can help us all map a territory continuously changing. What may make us dizzy and what may also fascinate us is the rapid change. For some, then the need is to try to control the situation; our esteemed authors are calling for taking a curious journey rather than a set of guidelines to control the rather beautiful and sometimes threatening technological chameleon."

Gonzalo Bacigalupe, EdD, MPH, Professor, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, College of Education and Human Development, University of Massachusetts, Boston


"The Internet has reached a central place in interpersonal dynamics – and our personal lives are not exempt from this influence. Our children are growing with technologies unknown a decade ago, challenging the ways in which clinicians can help. Drs. Katherine Hertlein and Markie Twist are both scholars, but more importantly, they are both family therapists – and that shows in every single page of this book. Rather than focusing on lengthy theoretical debates, this book presents numerous examples and practical tools, and proposes frameworks readily usable by clinicians. To those interested in how the new technologies of communication are affecting human relationships, this text provides a set of maps to help navigate the waters of the Internet."

Matthieu J. Guitton, PhD, FRAI, Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, Canada, and Editor-in-Chief of Computers in Human Behavior 


"Perhaps no other factor has altered the family landscape in the 21st century more than the rise of technology. In this remarkable book, Katherine Hertlein and Markie Twist provide a comprehensive, empirically-based, and balanced synthesis of how technology has influenced couple and family interactions including parenting, communication patterns, and the development of intimate relationships. Moving beyond a mere description of dynamics, they offer a framework for working with families around issues related to technology as well as practical suggestions for navigating the terrain. Scholars and therapists will welcome this cutting edge volume on the intersection of families and technology."

Dale Hawley, PhD, Director, Marriage and Family Therapy Program and Professor for Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Stout, Menonomie