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How can digital communication technologies help or hinder separated parents?



20 March 2024

Our latest research summary highlights how separated parents use communication technologies for co-parenting, the possible benefits and drawbacks of doing so, and instances of misuse.

Separated parents are increasingly communicating about their co-parenting using digital communication technologies, such as text messaging, email and social media. While these platforms are thought to offer benefits in relation to communication, we investigated their use in practice and the advantages and risks that can be associated with their use.

Some of our key findings included that: 

  • the majority (80%) of participants used text and/or instant messaging for co-parenting 
  • messaging provided benefits such as a record of communication (83% agreed), indirect communication (74.5% agreed) and convenience (72.3% agreed) 
  • 82% of clients had experienced at least one form of communication technology misuse in the last 6 months. 

This is important because organisations and professionals that deliver family law and post-separation services play a key role in encouraging positive communication between separated co-parents. Post-separation arrangement negotiations would benefit from an explicit focus on communication with digital technologies. 

‘Text messaging, it’s instant, it’s right there and it’s in your space... There’s sort of no filter, and [it] doesn’t come with a trigger warning at the beginning...’  
- Research participant 

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