At a frightening pace social media and digital technology are enticing us to be more connected and informed human beings.
Even our fridges can talk to us!
Social media and associated smart devices allow us to pretty much do anything and everything, anywhere at any time, seemingly privately but maybe not always discretely.
The possibilities appear endless.
Boundaries and limits around social media use are hot topics of conversation amongst teachers, parents and relationship experts. And rightly so.
There are some upsides for relationships. For example:
- Text messaging, Face time and Skype calls in real time allow us to stay connected to our loved ones up the road and across the globe.
- Some couples use texting to flirt, share photos, tag each other and have fun when they’re apart.
- Social media has the power to reunite us with old friends from previous lives and meet new friends and create long term relationships.
However, what is emerging more and more is the impact of social media on mental health, intimacy and connection in relationships.
What’s the harm?
Habitual use of social media within families and relationships is causing disharmony and disruption. The harm is both subtle and dramatic.
Here are some examples.
These are real examples of people, relationships and families who for one reason or another lost perspective, lost relationships and sadly lost themselves.
Screen time on whatever device creates unhealthy and tragic distractions.
Are you in a family or relationship where the phone, iPad, laptop or computer is constantly attached to you, a partner or family member?
Check out 5 ways Social Media harms relationships.
1 – The absence of nurture
Nurture means care and attention to our own needs and the needs of others. Cultivating nurture in relationships requires all our senses including eye contact, body language, scents and sounds.
Relying upon the pounding of a keypad with our thumbs and fingers limits our unique capacity to foster meaningful, caring and nurturing relationships.
2- Poor social skills
Some people are missing out on the power of the spoken word and the ability to listen to the subtle cues of people’s sounds and mannerisms.
Constant messaging as a means of communicating reduces these skills of emotional and social connection.
All the emojies in the world will fail to truly represent genuine social interactions.
3 – Losing the ability to be present and attentive
Being exclusively available to be with your partner, and/or family, free from all distractions on a regular basis, is the hallmark of growing connections in relationships.
The latest tweets from the Kardashians, President Trump or all the trending topics that spew into the world fail in comparison with appreciating the people that matter most to us.
4 – Escaping vulnerability
Experiencing stress, worry, sadness or fear is a natural part of life. The ability to share these emotions is a cornerstone of intimacy and vital in helping families, relationships and communities stay healthy and well.
If we ignore or escape these feelings consistently by getting seduced into a digital world we can lose ourselves and our loved ones forever.
5 – Damaging our brains
Numerous studies are showing that too much screen time impairs structural and functional parts of our brain.
The changes in the brain influence emotional processing, attention, decision-making and thought control. These capacities are vital to the way we build and sustain relationships.
In my research for this post I was amazed to discover that new brain disorders are being attributed to digital media use. Here are 5!
- Nomophobia – the feeling of panic when separated from a phone or tablet
- Technoference – the interruption of leisure time, conversations and meal times with significant others by tech devices.
- The Phantom ring – otherwise known as Fauxcellarm or Ringxiety refers to the perception that our mobile phone is ringing when it’s not.
- Cyberchondria – this is a new version of an old phenomenon. It’s when people constantly research and diagnose their own illness online.
- Truman Show Delusion – the false perception that an individual life is being broadcast
Need a re-boot?
Revisiting limits, rules and boundaries around social media use is a regular task for many of us from time to time.
Consider that over-use of social media may also be a symptom of unresolved personal or relationship problems.