The age of technology is not without its perks and conveniences. But increasingly, the less-talked-about negative impact of technology is finally gaining some limelight. Take the average American family of five. Both parents and children are likely to have multiple social media accounts. The internet and social media keep all family members engaged. For extended periods of time! With accessible internet like Cox internet service, connecting is easy for people. Smartphones and tablets make it even more convenient to stay online all the time.
Let’s look at what this means.
The Positives and Negatives of Social Media on Relationships
People develop dozens of relationships throughout their lives. However, the strongest bonds are usually found in family relationships. So it makes sense to examine the impact of social media on this aspect of human society. When I was young, in the pre-commercial internet era, family bonding was very different. It consisted of one-on-one conversations with family members. Family sessions after a long day, while everyone was unwinding. For want of a better word, I would have to say family interaction was on a more personal level back then.
In the 21st Century family, meaningful one-on-one conversations are becoming rarer every year. Most family time activities have given way to social media. Families now spend time posting pictures, updates, statuses, and memes. In a slow but steady slide, humans have somehow distanced themselves. Both from themselves and from the people closest to them. If you are a parent who worries about this alarming turn of events, this blog can help you by exploring:
- Social Media – The Positives
- Social Media – The Negatives
Let’s take a closer look at these areas below.
Social Media – The Positives
To demonize social media as an evil tool of modernization would be grossly unfair. Social media has helped many relationships. It has had a positive impact on them in the following ways:
- Reducing physical distances: Long distance relationships are never easy. But couples or families who have to spend time apart for long periods can still feel close to each other. They can communicate and interact via social media. Even if they’re separated by thousands of miles.
- Better understanding: Social media profiles often act as a snapshot of a person’s personality. They display a person’s likes, dislikes, social circle, opinions, views, and habits. This can be convenient. It can help new friends decide if they would like to enter into a relationship with the other person. It helps you assess if you are compatible with the other person.
- Staying in touch: College means your children will ultimately move out of your house. They will have to start their own lives. But your interaction with them does not have to be limited to postcards. You don’t have to wait for long-distance phone calls anymore. You can follow what’s happening in their lives over social media. Just reach out to them, and offer support and guidance.
- Memories: The memory feature on social media allows families to relive amazing family moments. Pictures, videos, tags, check-ins, etc. show up every year on the anniversary of the event. This can help keep the nostalgia and familial love going strong.
- Bonding: Social media allows family members to see what each other is posting. It lets them bond over things they like. This will also spill over into real life. It helps keep family members close over shared interests, hobbies, and more.
- Single Parent Families: Divorce is fairly common, but children still need some form of stability. They crave the presence of both parents in their lives. While parents may not get along on their own, they can still communicate with their kids. Obviously, doing this over social media is almost natural. This helps make sure there is no estrangement.
Social Media – The Negatives
Social media has many positives. However, we can’t allow them to overshadow the very real negative impacts. The negatives social media has on family relationships include:
- Addictive: Social media addiction is a very real phenomenon, especially among children. It can have serious impacts on your ability to communicate and form relationships in real life.
- Highlight Effect: Social media is essentially a highlight reel of everyone’s lives. However, many people easily mistake the highlight reel for a behind-the-scenes image. This can cause dissatisfaction, discontent, jealousy, and other negative emotions.
- Infidelity: Social media often offers a “safe” channel for people in a relationship to cheat on their partner. Most of the time, the other person can’t figure out because there isn’t anything seemingly out of the ordinary. We are always on our phones, so there’s usually no visible change in behavior.
- Mental Health: It is very easy to forget the blurred line between social media and the real world. Young people, often adolescents, find themselves struggling to prioritize the right one. This can lead to mental conditions like anxiety or depression.
It is no easy task to quantify the positive and negative impacts of social media. Especially on relationships. In the past, it was easy to switch off your Cox TV for some family time. But the internet never shuts off. There’s also the fact that there aren’t many formal clinical studies on social media. So most of what we know is experiential. If you know of any other positive or negative effects of social media, let us know in the comments.