There were a significant number of interesting complaints about digital manners on this morning’s Midmorning on MPR. There was the guy who objected to people taking pictures at his wedding and then posting them on Facebook instead of his professionally photographed images. There was the woman who gets annoyed when her texts aren’t answered, and of course the loudmouth on the cellphone.
But a study shows what may be the biggest digital insult of all — our communication tools are neutering the power of mom to make things better.
The study, reported on Wired.com, comes from the University of Wisconsin. It measured the effect of mom’s voice on “girls who were stressed,” separated by method of communication:
After finishing, the girls were assigned to one of four groups. One didn’t talk at all to their mothers. Another group talked by phone, another had a face-to-face conversation, and another communicated by instant message. The researchers then measured their cortisol and oxytocin levels, and compared them to pre-test measurements.
As expected, girls who heard their mother’s voice, either in person or on the phone, were consoled. But among girls who used IM, hormone levels barely changed. Translated into words on a screen, mom’s words seemingly lost their comforting power.
The researcher suggests that mom’s voice triggers soothing effects. What she actually says may be secondary.