Mar 31, 2020 in Exploratory

In this paper, I will argue that excessive use of social media can negatively impact family relationships. One of the aims of social media is to simplify the communication between people. In other words, its objectives have been to make it possible for users to communicate even if they are separated by spatial means. As human beings, we need to socialize and communicate with others. Connection with family, relatives or even friends that love abroad is one of the greatest ways social media helps keep the bonds alive. Of all the relation that we have in life, the most precious and strong are the ones with our families.  Nevertheless, something has gone wrong. Balanced amount of time using social media can be good but when we spend hours after hours on it, we often see ourselves distancing from direct family. Nowadays, family members are often so engaged with their devices and do not notice each other. How often it is seen that a teenager or young adult remains busy on his or her phone completely ignoring their parents or having minimal conversation with them. Unfortunately, this is the reflection of our reality. Many believe that social media has the mostly positive impacts. However, I believe that social media affects real-life family relationships in a negative way. Thus, in this paper, I will argue that excessive use of social media can negatively impact family relationships in the following ways. The first one is the overuse of social media decrease live interpersonal (face-to-face) communication between family members. Furthermore, social media addiction to networking sites can lead to social isolation and loneliness of family members, which can negatively alter the healthy family relationships. In addition, the excessive use of social media sites as Facebook and Tinder can cause problems between married couples and even lead to divorce. Either of the spouse can chat with strangers using social media networks, and it can lead to cheating and adultery which increases the risk of divorce. There are several aspects of social media use that destroy the ties existing among the members of a family. Apparently, the social media shape the behavior of most of the users and inculcate in them demeanors that neither auger well with family values nor enhance its well-being. Most of the social media users tend to spend their time online, essential family pillars suffer as a result.

People appreciate online relationships through Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. However, the difference between the relationships aided by the internet and the physical interaction in the real world is huge. The author argues that the act of substituting relationships established via social media for physical interactions creates the main issue concerning the use of the platforms. Individuals develop a false feeling of connectedness through the internet. Since better communication takes place between members when there is physical interaction, the separation caused by excessive use of social media works against this principle. Therefore, lack of understanding is bound to arise between the family members as each is detached from the other. Any relationship is underpinned on effective communication. People who listen and understand one another always develop a healthy relationship. This assertion is also correct for couples who may disagree on an issue, but when they have a feeling that they are heard and understood, they tend to develop respect which is a recipe for developing trust and strong bonds. To this extent, the online platforms do not favor physical interactions, and as such, they interfere with communication. This, in turn, works against healthy relationships among family members. 

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 The social media interactions are weak. This implies that individuals fail to develop a sense of personal connection to their partners they converse with through the internet than they would do in a face-to-face engagement. As such, communicating more via the web does not necessarily build a healthy relationship. Keller believes that several issues surface concerning the role played by social media in communication styles. When people excessively communicate through the social internet platforms, they trust the individuals on the other side of the interface. In this regard, the participants become more open to them than to the real family members and can share with them private information. The social connections developed through social media are not as strong as those established in face-to-face interactions with the family members. The detachment and seclusion from the rest and the destruction of the sense of togetherness due to limited meaningful time for the association between members contribute to the poor relationships in families.

A healthy family relationship is one where each member shows commitments towards factors that help to build and solidify its foundation. Overuse of social media antagonizes this fact. Families whose members spend a significant amount of time on the internet cannot solve problems that affect them. Such scenario is explained by the point that each member fails to recognize the importance of other members and the reasons to stay together. The social media tend to inculcate a sense of carelessness and a feeling that the only important people are the ones they talk to at the other end of the internet. In such a family set-up, conflicts cannot find solutions since. This happens more often when the parents are addicts of social media. Addicted parents tend to hide behind the online social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as they chat with strangers and send thousands of messages across the globe. Such kind of a lifestyle necessitated by the social media not only cultures laziness and irresponsibility that works against relationships but in addition, leads to moral decadence. Children tend to learn from their elders or parents. The chances are high that siblings will always become addicted to social media when the parents are heavy users of the online platforms. To that extent, parents may not be able to control the content the young ones are exposed to while they go online via phones and computers. Additionally, as the internet is awash with all sorts of social activities and images, children will attempt to imitate the non-existence perfect relationships depicted by some social platform. Their discipline will likely deteriorate. Maintaining a connection in a family where individuals lack respect, decency, and reciprocity is almost impossible.  

Excessive use of social media make parents spend substantial amount of time online. The family members, particularly the young ones who look up to the parents for almost every aspect of life, get confused and end up with a feeling of neglect and loneliness. Children under such social circumstances may not have relationship interests as the same does not make sense when they grow up and are likely to fail to foster family relationships. Some parents engage their children in events related to social networking such as taking photos and uploading, these acts are far from the expected parental love. Such behaviors exhibited by parents have long-term repercussions for the children. Besides, involving children in social media serves to train them from a tender age on the techniques to pull away from family life by engaging in substantial attention seeking activities such as social networking. It, therefore, becomes a cycle of ruined family relationships. Gone are the days when children talked to their colleagues and spent time with family or just strolled around with friends after school. Their behaviors have changed to the limit that no child has time to chat via phones or write long paragraphs through e-mails. For an active family relationship, partakers must have their social skills upright and functional. This cannot occur when people excessively use social media since it changes their behavior and their views concerning interpersonal relationships. As such, family relationships remain a battle that can only be won when the time spent in social networking is balanced. The members must be willing to spend some times together, solve real problems facing them, and embrace face-to-face communication all the times. These attributes also help to create an environment that favors the development of relational skills among the children and adolescents. 

The family relationships appear to be a function of family unity. As such, any factor that upset trustworthiness and a sense of togetherness directly affect a relationship. Online platforms require focus and attention from the users. Therefore, members are left with little attention to give to other social matters. In this regard, people develop emotional attachment to the partners they communicate with via the social websites. Two issues arise from such scenario; when the victims are the parents, the family gets at high risk of breaking up. The father and mother will stop seeing the significance of holding the family unit together. Due to the multiple relationships they create while they are online with both unknown and known distant friends; their right sense of judgment is clouded hence become prone to making wrong decisions that negatively affect their families. 

The parents tend to lose the ability to foster unity in the family as they become social media-dependent. With the absence of unity and lack of leadership from the parents, family relationships remain elusive. Facebook has shifted the parents’ attention particularly the excessive users. In the process, the parents end up neglecting the primary family responsibilities. When the victims of social media use are children and individuals approaching the adolescent stage, more problems arise. Children in their formative years are at the greatest risk of ruining their morals when they become users. They too will have their attention shifted towards friends in the social platforms. The outcome of the change will include disobedience to their parents, elders, or any senior members and their peers. Their academic performance will begin to take a nosedive due to limited time spent with books. Moreover, their communication skills and language mastery deteriorate since there is no urgency of grammatical and syntax correctness when writing in the online platforms. All these factors act as major impediments to the development of relationship skills. Such children lack the capacity to relate to others well. Their interactions in the social media shape their view of the world. As such, they will end up seeing the world in the dimension of parties, drinking, sex, explicit exposures, rumors, and wealth. Such attributes cannot allow such kids and adolescents develop essential relationship skills within family set up. In addition, the time they spend on the internet on the social websites replaces the time they require to develop logical thinking and motor skills. They end up with limited abilities of creativity and attention span. They hardly can relate with people in the physical world since the prescribed computer programs in the social media limit their brain acuity.

As social media addicts lack problem-solving skills, most marriages are at the brink of breakups end up doing so as each partner finds solace from the online social platforms. Various reasons explain why excessive social media users end up in separation or divorce. The couple develops a problematic relationship where none have sufficient time for the other. Therefore, their environment becomes hostile and incapable of fostering understanding. The perfect superficial relationship that always seems to exist in the online platform such as Facebook causes some psychological adjustments to wives and husbands. At such time, they stop to see the beauty in their relationships but tend to yarn for the virtual relationship that exists on the internet. The couples, therefore, develop a don't-care attitude that cannot nurture a healthy association in their family. The outcome of such marriages that thrive in harsh conditions is divorce. The Facebook addiction is responsible for one divorce out of five in the United States.

Social media use does not give a chance to commitments, as such; most of the marriages have been terminated due to one or both partners’ addiction to the online platforms. Research conducted to find out the effect of social media on marriage discovered that partners are likely to cheat and engage in infidelity. Reasons advanced to explain the phenomena include the fact that individuals with a high propensity to cheat or get out of their marriage do so due to the kind of backward social behaviors that they consume while chatting with friends online. In a marriage set up, partners must exhibit certain levels of commitments and care for one another. Unfortunately, social media users show the desirable marriage attributes to the online partners at the expense of their relationship with their husbands and wives. As such, the marriage environment becomes hostile for both of them. This results in the destruction of family ties and relationships.

Hart and Sylvia believe that the statistics showing the degree of damage social media use have caused to family relationships and marriages are shocking. 57% of individuals who spend significant time on Facebook and other social media have used the platforms to flirt. 38% of the users have had an explicit sexual conversation while chatting online, 50% of social media users have talked via phone to people they first met on the internet on social sites while 31% have had sex after holding a sexual conversation online. The findings indicate how far people have taken their actions due to online interactions. Such behaviors make a family relationship hardly last. The internet’s impact is so significant that most marriages and family relationships are in serious jeopardy. The authors admit that “Thousands of marriages are in trouble this very moment because someone fueled an important relationship on the internet. Of course, this isn’t the fault of social networking sites, nor of the internet itself, but these tools make it much easier to get into these situations. Affairs on Facebook and other social networking sites are threatening healthy marriages too”.

In conclusion, social media has had a massive effect on the family relationships. Reduced live interpersonal (face-to-face) communication between family members, social isolation and loneliness of family members which negatively impact relationships, and problems between married couples leading to divorce are some of the effects that excessive social networking has caused to families hurting relationships in the process. Excessive use of social media has rendered families unable to maintain relationships which form an essential component of family unity. The problem of the online platform cuts across the system of household and affects both parents and children. Relationships are becoming elusive to most couples as the world ushers in the digital edge. Research has it that one marriage out of five breaks up due to the use of Facebook. Married partners today find it hard to stay in the relationship and remain in their marriage as a result of interactions via the internet. They have facilitated cheating, dishonest, and caused a shift in attention that has seen family members abandon one another for the sake of pursuing the perfect imaginative relationships that only exist on the social websites. Children have taken the footsteps of their parents and over indulged in social media activities. This has left them incapable of developing real social and relational skills. As such, most of them exist in families that do not uphold the principle of relationships. As parents spend more time online chatting with friends and posting several items, their children get very minimal parental care leaving them with a feeling of lonely and neglected. As a result, the cycle becomes continuous as the siblings also seek for companions online. The outcome of the situation is a broken relationship within the institution of the family. Besides, lack of commitments towards issues that bind families together has also led to several divorces and separation. This might be due to the development of an awkward attitude of don't care due to psychological change initiated by social media addiction. The issue threatens many family set ups and new marriages. Unless people start regulating the amount of time they spent with online friends via the social websites, family relationships will continue to be negatively influenced and even threaten its existence in future.

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