The Impact of Social Media on Our Family Relationships
Social Media Has Had a Profound Impact on Our Marriages and Divorces
The rise of social media and technology has redefined the way we communicate with those around us. It has made staying in touch with long distance relatives much easier as a simple Facetime or scroll through their Facebook pictures can make you feel like you are right there with them. However, often times, social media causes us to neglect the people we are truly right there with in the moment. We spend so much time scrolling, posting and liking that sometimes we forget to look up and engage with the world around us. This can have a seriously negative impact on our family relationships.
The Impact of Social Media on Body Image
Young people are especially susceptible to the dark side of social media as they are so heavily influenced by those around them and have a strong desire to fit in with their peers. There have been countless studies showing that spending too much time on social media can create low self esteem and greatly impact ones sense of self worth based on their body image and the photos they compare themselves to online. This can be linked to anxiety and depression and we are seeing a huge rise in young people being diagnosed with various mental health and physical conditions as a result of social media. Setting rules and boundaries around social media is now a necessary part of parenting. However, both parents need to be on the same page and present a united front in order to ensure your children have a healthy relationship with social media and an even healthier relationship with themselves.
Consistency of Rules Across Households
If you are in the process of separation, or have been divorced for a while, you know the importance of creating a parenting plan to ensure a level of predictability and routine in your children’s lives across both households. In addition to a schedule of whose house they will be at each night – kids also need stability in their rules. This is why it is so important for co-parents to try their best to be on the same page and have similar household rules, for example consistent bedtimes, homework expectations and social media usage. Setting and enforcing social media boundaries should be an ongoing conversation between you, your co-parent and your child (depending on their age and maturity level to assist in making smart choices). Some tips for children and social media usage include:
- Monitor their social media usage. This needs to be done taking into account your child’s sense of privacy, maturity leave and your comfort with their decision making. This may include being your child’s “friend” on social media, ensuring they only have access to social media when you are present and keeping their cell phones and other devices locked away at bedtime. How you choose to monitor is entirely up to you and your co-parent. Just ensure you are all on the same page and enforce these rules in both houses.
- Familiarize yourself with the social media platforms they use. You don’t need to become a TikTok sensation but knowing the general ways that people interact on different platforms will give you some insight into the way your child is communicating with their friends and will assist you in seeing red flags.
- Talk to your children. Ask them how they feel about social media and if they notice any changes in their feelings after spending sometime scrolling through their feeds. Allow them an open and honest space to share their feelings and do your best to understand where they are coming from. Social media is how children communicate and it is important to understand this and allow them the opportunity to engage with their peers and learn about themselves. Social media isn’t inherently bad and can be an extremely important tool in building relationships and a healthy sense of self.
The Impact of Social Media on Marriage
Social media can cause a lot of tension in relationships. Social media allows us to communicate with various people and can be done in extremely private ways. Sometimes, this can lead to situations that you wouldn’t put yourself into in the real world and result in emotional cheating, or even in some cases, lead to physical cheating. As such, social media has been blamed for many divorces in recent years and spouses learn of their partners online behaviours. In addition to outright cheating, social media can also impact the quality of time you and your partner spend together and decrease the quality of your communication and intimacy. Just like with your children, it is very important to have honest conversations around social media usage with your partner and set boundaries that make you both comfortable.
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Disclaimer: The content provided in the blog posts of Jones Divorce & Family Law is general information and should not be considered legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for legal advice tailored to your specific situation. All articles are current as of their original publication date.