The growing use of technology has granted Americans more ways to express their love this Valentine’s Day.
Mobile apps, social media and real-time text communication are booming in popularity, but aren’t meant to replace personal connections made face-to-face, experts say.
“The real-time nature of it creates new opportunities for romantic communication,” said Glenn Platt, professor and director of interactive media studies at Miami University.
Platt said younger generations using smartphones and tablets have carved out a demand for mobile apps such as Couple and Avocado that provide a private space for couples to share messages, photos, to-do lists and more. He added mobile apps such as Open Table and Yelp are especially helpful around romantic holidays to help last-minute consumers make plans.
“Technology has made procrastinators better off,” Platt said.
Erin Newkirk, co-founder and general manager of tech-based company Red Stamp, said her e-card store, which launched in 2005, records its highest volume around Valentine’s Day. The free mobile app — which has more than 1.5 million downloads — allows people to send personalized holiday cards by text, email, traditional mail or through social media.
“It’s interesting how the occasion has morphed and changed with the introduction of social media tools and gadgets,” Newkirk said.
Newkirk said digital communications have been successful at making people feel more connected, especially with family and friends across the nation and globe. On Valentine’s Day last year, Newkirk said the company sent 1.3 digital cards per second.
“It’s not replacing the phone call or hug,” Newkirk said. “We still want, and hope, people are actually making contact with their loved ones in physical ways.”
Todd Dewiel, of Liberty Twp., said he takes on a traditional stance when it comes to Valentine’s Day and communicating with his wife of 12 years, Ranee. Dewiel said he keeps the romance alive throughout the year, and not just on Valetine’s Day, by sending his wife flowers once a month. On the actual holiday, he will hide his wife’s gift and give her clues to find it.
“I’m completely traditional; I don’t even get on Facebook,” Dewiel said. “I’m not that tech savvy, but my wife lives on Facebook. She gets really excited if I send an email.”
A February mobile consumer report from the Nielsen Company, a global information and measurement company, states the average U.S. adult sends or receives 764 text messages per month — while making or receiving an average 164 phone calls.
Platt said a study out of Brigham Young University in late 2013 determined that some text communication can enhance relationships, while others have damaging effects.
“Short messages of affection have a positive impact on relationships,” Platt said. “The negative side … text is problematic for settling arguments or misunderstandings because it’s not rich enough for subtleties, tones and complex explanations.”
Britni Holmes, 28, of West Chester Twp., said she is in constant contact through text messaging with her husband of five years, John Jr.
“We text each other all day long with hearts and lips,” Holmes said. “It’s an easy way to feel like you’re not alone at work.”
The couple, who’s been together 12 years, typically celebrate the holiday with breakfast in bed, but this year Holmes surprised her husband with candy and flowers delivered to his work.
“I don’t think (digital communication) is as sincere; it’s good for longer-distance family, but I try not to do it with close family and friends,” Holmes said.
BY THE NUMBERS
Digital Habits of American Adults
26 percent: Shopped online this Valentine’s Day
16 percent: Shopped online for Valentine’s Day in 2010
69 percent: Adults who own a smartphone
46 percent: Adults who own a tablet
64 percent: Visit social media sites daily via computers
47 percent: Visit social media sites daily via smartphones
Source: Nielsen Company, National Retail Federation