Experiences with Warmth in Middle Childhood Predict Features of Text-Message Communication in Early Adolescence

Robert A. Ackerman, The University of Texas
Kevin J. Carson
Conrad A. Corretti
Samuel E. Ehrenreich, University of Nevada
Diana Jill Meter, Utah State University
Marion K. Underwood, Purdue University


This research explored whether experiences with warmth in middle childhood are linked to increased levels of positive affect, decreased levels of negative affect, and decreased levels of disagreeable interactions in text-message communication in adolescence. Participants included 218 children (and their parents and peers) who were on average 10.04-years-old (SD = 0.43) in the 4th grade. In addition to being observed interacting with their parents and friends in the 4th thru 7th grade, participants were provided with BlackBerries configured to capture all incoming and outgoing text-message communication at the end of the 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. Results suggest that observed expressions of warmth are primarily relationship-specific. Further, greater exchanges of warmth within the parent–child and friend–child relationships predicted lower levels of negative affect and duplicity within digital communication.