Remember the days when the whole family would gather around the dinner table and share stories of the day together over a home cooked meal? Yeah, me neither. Our lives have become so busy, and between work, school and the many other obligations, it can be hard to get the whole family. Throw in social media obsession, and you’re likely similar to most parents who have children glued to their phones – actually mine is my husband who’s glued to twitter at meal times!
Social media has intertwined itself into almost every aspect of our lives, including the way we communicate with our families. Let’s look at some key ways social media has changed the ways families interact.
We Are Always Connected
One of the most obvious impacts that social media has on a family’s communication is the fact that both children and parents are always connected. With the advanced digital technology available today, it’s nearly impossible to hide things on social media. Even private accounts can be investigated.
On one hand, this is good news because it’s easier for parents to closely track their child’s whereabouts and keep up with them and their friends. Gone are the days of lying to your parents to do something behind their back. Between Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and more, parents almost always know where their kids are.
On the other hand, social media has been accused of causing an invasion of privacy. Sure, we want to keep our children safe, but there are some things that they should keep to themselves and vice versa. Parents don’t need to see their child’s every move, just as children don’t need to know their parents’ every thought. Social media is a window into our lives, and we are always connected, whether we like it or not.
It Can Both Bring Families Together or Tear Them Apart
Social media often gets a bad reputation for being a barrier between valuable in-person communication, but when in-person communication isn’t possible, social media actually brings us together. A recent study examined children with siblings who they followed on social media. The study concluded that “social media communication with a sibling…was significantly associated with sibling closeness.” This can go for both siblings that are separated by distance and those living together.
Social media makes it easy to stay up to take on pictures, activities, hobbies, and other personal information about our family members.
It Becomes a Full-Time Job
Not only do we have to keep up with our full-time jobs and schooling, but now we also need to keep up with our social image. In 2015, teens spent an average of nine hours a day consuming media, which has likely increased since these studies. That means that teens spend 45 hours a week Monday through Friday consuming media, more than many people’s actual jobs. Because of this, families have to juggle keeping up with this and their other obligations.
If keeping up with social media is feeling more like a chore than a fun distraction, you might want to consider a social media cleanse. Staying off social media for a few days can be just the refresh families need to get their communication back on track and feel a weight lifted from their shoulders. Many users who do a social media cleanse find that they have much more time to interact with those around them, rather than live through a screen.
Work is Never Done
In addition to social media, we also have to look at how we use our phones to check emails, look at our calendars, and keep up with all the moving parts of our lives. While this is great at work, it can be hard for some families to leave work at the door when they come home. Kids aren’t the only ones who can’t seem to put their phones down. More and more parents check their work email at the dinner table, respond to professional requests, or check their calendar for the next day. While not social media, this technology just adds to the ever-present multi-tasking deteriorating families.
Social media has changed our lives, both for the worse and for the better. Next time you’re with your family, make an effort to switch off the phones and spend more time together face to face. You’re sure to love what you learn about each other.