Blurring Boundaries? Linking Technology Use, Spillover, Individual Distress, and Family Satisfaction


Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, Bolton Hall, Milwaukee, WI 53201 (


Information technology is entrenched in everyday life; yet, scholars have not firmly established whether this use blesses or vexes individuals and their families. This study analyzes longitudinal data (N =1,367) from the Cornell Couples and Careers Study to assess whether increases in spillover explain changes in distress and family satisfaction associated with technology use. Structural equation models indicate that cell phone use over time (but not computer use) is associated with increases in negative forms of spillover (positive spillover is not significant) and is linked to increased distress and lower family satisfaction. Overall, the evidence suggests that technology use may be blurring work/family boundaries with negative consequences for working people.