Reich is a community psychologist studying contexts that support children’s development. Her research focuses on children’s direct and technologically mediated interactions with family, peers, and educational settings. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Society for Community Research and Action. Reich is director of UCI's Development in Social Context Lab (DISC) and Associate Dean of UCI’s Graduate Program.
Texting is used by many adolescents and has the potential to improve well-being, as youth can reach out for support immediately after experiencing a stressful situation. Many studies have examined whether texting is associated with well-being, but few have used experimental designs, preventing causal claims. In this experimental study, 130 adolescents (Mage = 12.41) participated with a same-gender friend whom they texted regularly. Both adolescents completed a task that elicited stress and then engaged in one of the following randomly assigned activities: texting their friend, watching a video on a cellphone (passive-phone condition), or sitting quietly (no activity condition). Participants reported their mood and stress levels after the stress task and again after the activity. Heart rate variability was measured throughout. Participants who texted their friend reported higher moods (b = −.80, standard error [SE] = .24, p < .001, ηp2 = .09) and lower stress at the end of the study than those in the no activity condition (b = .51, SE = .25, p = .046, ηp2 = .04) and higher moods than adolescents in the passive-phone condition (b = −.74, SE = .25, p = .004, ηp2 = .08). No differences were noted between the passive-phone and no activity conditions. There were no differences in heart rate variability between the three conditions. The effects of texting on mood, self-reported stress, and heart rate variability did not differ by gender.