How Social Media Positively And Negatively Impacts Your Family
Social media usage continues to grow around the world, increasing around 9% per year. The younger generations, from millennials to Gen Y and beyond, are likely the key demographics using social media and increasingly participating in it.
However, the older generations, too, use social media, though perhaps with different usage patterns and intensity. Given how social media has come to pervade our societies and daily lives, it’s worth taking a closer look at how these digital platforms impact the family.
The benefits of social media for families
Social media could offer real, measurable benefits for families by giving everyone an easy way to keep in touch, share memories, and stay connected.
- Keeping in touch: One of the most significant benefits social media provides for families is an easy way to keep in touch with family members across geographical distance. For example, the vast majority (87%) of seniors who use social media recognise it helps them stay in touch with family and friends.
- Couples: Partners who travel a lot for work can feel more connected by sharing their daily experiences with each other through social media. New couples can get to know each other’s social groups, dislikes, interests, and lives more quickly.
- Staying connected: Social media can help families stay connected in an everyday sense. Family members living in the same city or even household can use social media to stay up to date with schedules, events, and locations. Parents and kids can stay connected and easily reach each other when necessary. Families with separated or divorced parents and children spending time in two different households can use social media to contact each other and share more of their lives in a convenient way.
- Security: Social media can offer families a sense of security in knowing they can reach everyone in the family at any time. It could also encourage families to share more and be more inclined to open communication with each other.
- Empowerment: Younger family members can feel a sense of empowerment and self-worth by teaching their adult family members how to set up social media accounts.
- Sharing options: Depending on the platform you use, social media lets you to share thoughts and experiences in different ways. You can share video clips, photos, comments, articles, and other content. You can set these to specific groups, have an open profile, or only befriend your family and close friends for sharing.
- Memories: Social media is ideal for sharing memories, particularly when certain family members aren’t able to attend. Photos, videos, comments, tags, and other features make it easy to share special events and reflect on them. This can support stronger family bonds and deepen your family ties.
Family drawbacks of social media
Social media use can impact families negatively, affecting health, relationships, work, and study.
- Obesity and health: Where social media use becomes an addiction, it could lead to too little physical activity. In turn, this sedentary lifestyle could raise the risk of obesity.
- Ability to focus: Social media addiction could compromise the ability to focus, particularly when it comes to children. Being distracted by what’s happening on Facebook or Instagram could affect study and work.
- Communication: Too much screen time could impact our ability to develop interpersonal relationship skills, especially in children. Screen time focused on social media interactions can rob people of the opportunity to interact with each other face-to-face, and to develop oral communication skills.
- Interpersonal skills: Social media and screen time can deprive children of the chance to learn to read social cues, understand emotions, and other vital interpersonal skills.
- Bonding and cohesion: Excessive time spent on social media could also reduce family communication, lower the amount of quality time spent together, and adversely affect family relationships. In turn this could lower the sense of family cohesion and even the feeling of support and security within a family unit.
- Mental and emotional wellbeing: Increased social media use could be associated with depression, poor sleep quality, anxiety, and lower self-esteem.
Social media in moderation can be beneficial for families
Used selectively and in moderation, social media has a lot to offer for families, whether it’s for staying connected, helping deepen your bonds through sharing great memories or having the security of knowing you can reach everyone at any time. The Smart Consumer says to have dark hours and times at home. This is where families are banned from using electronics during certain activities and times of the day.
Instead of having screen or social-media time erode your quality time together, families should be proactive about putting away devices and limiting hours on social media, for both adults and kids.
Balance social media time with face-to-face time, and model healthy connections in the home so kids have a chance to develop good interpersonal skills and stronger bonds with the adults. Technology tools like social media have the potential for a lot of good but must be used carefully.